Gerard Mercator (1512-1594)

Mercator was one of the most important and influential of c.16th map makers. A geographer, cosmographer and is best known for creating the 1569 world map based on a new projection (named after him) which represented sailing courses of constant bearing (rhumb lines) as straight lines. His knowledge of geography came from his library of over one thousand books and maps, from travellers and from his vast correspondence (in six languages) with other scholars, statesmen, travellers, merchants and seamen.

Mercator’s early maps were in large formats suitable for wall mounting but in the second half of his life, he produced over 100 new regional maps in a smaller format suitable for binding into his Atlas of 1595. This was the first appearance of the word Atlas in reference to a book of maps.

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