Book Discussion on The Fourth Part of the World
Nov 5, 2009
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Toby Lester talked about his book The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name
(Free Press, November 3, 2009). Up until the early 1500s, .. Read More
Toby Lester talked about his book The Fourth Part of the World: The Race to the Ends of the Earth, and the Epic Story of the Map That Gave America Its Name (Free Press, November 3, 2009). Up until the early 1500s, Europeans thought of the world as having three parts: Europe, Africa, and Asia. Early world maps consisted of these three parts, but sometimes mentioned a “fourth part of the world.” This fourth part became a reality on a printed map for the first time when in 1507 German mapmakers Martin Waldseemuller and Matthias Ringmann published their “universalis cosmagraphia.” Their work marks the first time the word America appeared on a map; as a tribute to Amerigo Vespucci who was probably the first explorer to realize that North and South America were not part of Asia. In his talk, illustrated by slides, Toby Lester traced the history of maps of the world, showing how an accumulation of knowledge and techniques led to the Waldseemuller map. He responded to questions from members of the audience.
The Library of Congress acquired the only known surviving copy of the map in 2001 for ten million dollars. This program was part of the Books & Beyond series of the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and was co-sponsored by the Geography and Map Division. It was held at noon on Thursday, November 5, 2009, in the Mary Pickford Theater in the Library of Congress James Madison Building.