Gerard Mercator (1512-1594) ranks as one of the greatest cartographers in history, not only for the extremely fine maps he produced, but also for the innovations which he introduced into cartographic science. Until the end of the sixteenth century, Ptolemy's concept of depicting sections of the world in trapezoidal configurations, like gores from a globe, had predominated. Mercator, however, stated that small sections of the earth were not significantly distorted toward the poles if longitude lines were represented as parallel by squares or rectangles. The development of the "Mercator projection," which became the established convention, was particularly important for the improvements it allowed in navigational methods.
Through his constant accumulation of new geographic and cosmological data, Mercator was able to produce the most accurate and current maps of his day, which unlike most of his contemporary's maps were mostly original work. His maps not only are excellent cartographically, but they are aesthetically superb as well, with beautiful cartouches, silken seas and other exquisite ornamentation. Mercator intended to produce a complete description of creation, heaven, the earth and the seas, a project he was only beginning when he died. Such was his influence that the title he chose for this projected work, "Atlas," has now become the generic name for all collections of maps. This map of Ireland is a superior example of Mercator's geographical work. It is from a plate by Mercator himself and was one of the most advanced maps of the area produced through the early seventeenth century. It is oriented to the west, so that the island can be shown in larger size on the atlas page. Of particular note for this map is the lack of the bulge in Connacht, for the western coast is shown quite flat. It is said that this depiction led the survivors of the defeat of the Spanish Armanda--who were trying to sail north around Scotland then down past Ireland--to hug too closely the Irish coast, thus shipwrecking on the shore. Their descendants are said to be the Black Irish. $1,250
"Tunison's Ireland." Jacksonville, Illinois: H.C. Tunison, 1889. Wax engraving. Original color. 12 1/2 x 9 3/4. Very good condition. Backed with map of France
A handsome map of Ireland from Tunison's Peerless Universal Atlas. With the development of wax engraving (cerography), more maps and atlases were able to be produced in cities beyond the major centers of New York, Philadelphia and Chicago. Henry C. Tunison issued a series of fine atlases beginning in 1885 and lasting into the beginning of the twentieth century. This is a nice example of his output, showing Ireland with bright colors indicating the counties. $75