Sebastian Münster(1489-1552) was a German mathematician, cartographer,
professor of Hebrew, and, for a time, a Franciscan monk. After the
Reformation became a Protestant and taught at Heidelberg and at Basel,
where he lived after 1536. A noted theologian and Hebraist, he edited
the first Hebrew Bible produced (1534–35) by a German. He published
his atlas, Geographica Universalis in 1540 and the
Cosmographia universalis, a descriptive geography, in 1544. The
map reproduced on the Austrian stamp is from the Cosmographiae.
The map on the Viet Namese stamp appears to be from the
Cosmographiae also. The map on the stamp from Cost Rica is from
the Geographica Universalis.
His map of the western
hemisphere is the first to show the New World as connected northern
and southern land masses separated from Asia. At the top of the map
the false see later called "Sea of Verrazano," a legendary passage to
Asia, almost breaks through the east coast of North America. The
strait of Magellan is bounded on the south by a large landmass, rather
than by the island of Tierra del Fuego. Magellan's ship, Victoria,
is shown in the Pacific Ocean. There are Portuguese flags off the
coast of Africa, a Spanish flag near Hispaniola, and the legend,
Canabali, "cannibals," on the eastern projection of South America.
of Africa is from the Geographica Universalis of 1540. It was printed
from a wood block, and is decorated with a cyclops, an elephant,
birds, and crowns representing native rulers.