A version of a 500-year-old world map that was the first to mention the name “America” has been discovered in a German university library.
Experts did not even know about the existence of a fifth copy of the map by German cartographer Martin Waldseemueller until it showed up a few days ago, Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich said.
The discovery is much smaller and thought to have been made after the 1507 original version, which Germany officially handed over to the United States in 2007 and now lies in the Library of Congress in Washington.
The newly unearthed map, one of the so-called globe segments, is believed to have been produced by Waldseemueller himself, who died in 1522.
These were “at least as important for the dissemination of geographical knowledge in his own time” as the world wall map, which is UNESCO-registered and often dubbed “America’s birth certificate”, the university said.
Photo: Ludwig Maximilian University
The new find shows the world divided into 12 segments which taper to a point at each end and are printed on a single sheet, which, when folded out, form a small globe, with the three rightmost segments depicting a boomerang-shaped territory named America.
Only four copies of the segmental maps were previously known about, the university said in a written statement.
One of the four was sold at auction for $1 million in 2005.
The fifth was found by a bibliographer, who was revising the catalogue, “in an otherwise unremarkable volume that had been rebound in the 19th century”, it said.
It was nestled between two printed works on geometry from the early 16th century.
“Even in our digital age the originals have lost none of their significance and unique fascination,” Klaus-Rainer Brintzinger, the head of the library, said in the statement.
“We intend to make the map accessible to the public in digital form in time for the Fourth of July, Independence Day in the USA,” he added.
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.