Sebastian Munster was the first mapmaker to produce separate maps of the four known continents. The woodcut map shown here is a version of the first map to show North and South America connected to each other but separate from any other land mass. The map was originally published in Munster's edition of Ptolemy's Geographia and in Munster's masterwork, Cosmographia in 1544.
Cosmographia was one of the most influential works on geography in the mid-sixteenth century; it was translated into five languages and published in forty different editions. Munster's map was the most widely circulated New World map of its time. It depicts the false Sea of Verrazano and the Northwest Passage. It presents a view of North America which preceded Hernando de Soto's exploration of North America.