Culture & Travel

25 January 2021
Meet the World’s Most Expensive Atlas: Cosmographia, Sebastian Münster

Cosmographia (Cosmography) is the world’s first German-resourced atlas prepared by Sebastian Münster. Münster (1488-1552) is a German map maker and silk scientist. He focused on the important locations in the world in his Cosmographia. A total of 40 versions were printed between 1544 and 1658, and the book became an important resource for over 200 years. Different versions were translated into Latin, French, Czech, and many other languages. 

This is one of the most important geographical works of the 16th Century Europe because it contains the “Tabula Novarum Insularum” map, which is the first printed map of the American continent.  


German map maker depicted his work in three different ways. His most important resource was obtained from manuscripts. Second main resource of his work was his own trips to southwest Germany, Alsace, and Switzerland. Cosmographia became an important historical atlas containing not only the most recent maps but also well-known cityscapes as well as known and unknown facts about the world as an encyclopedia. 

On the other hand, the world’s most expensive Atlas is Ptolemy’s version of Cosmographia which was sold for £2,136,000 at Sotheby’s, London in October 2006. Its current worth is determined as $3,991,970 and listed as the “World’s Most Expensive Atlas” in Guinness World Records.