Americans rejoicing the 4th of July celebrations had a rare date with history when researchers in Germany unearthed a rare 16th century map produced by master cartographer Martin Waldseemueller.
The accidental discovery in time for America's 4th of July anniversary is considered to be a sensational find. A Mail Online report cited Sven Kuttner, head of old books at the university, as saying, It seems to be a second edition and this is a unique map. Until now, we have no signs for a further map like this.
A routine browsing of books in Munich's Ludwig Maximilian University by library staff helped discover the small map wedged inside an unidentified 19th century book.
The finding is considered to be important for dissemination of geographical knowledge. It is held in line with the world wall map that is UNESCO-registered and dubbed as America's birth certificate.
The map dated 1507 shows the world divided into 12 segments. With tapering sides on each end, the map is printed on a single sheet. When folded, the map resembles a small globe carrying a boomerang-shaped territory named America with truncated North and South America. This reference is considered to be in honor of Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci who, Waldseemueller believed, was the first European to discover America and not Christopher Columbus.
Experts were not aware of the existence of a fifth copy of the map until its recent discovery a few days ago. Popular opinion had it that there were only four copies of the map. The fifth copy measuring 15x 10.8 inch is said to carry the first mention of the name America.
One of the five copies of the map was auctioned for $1 million in 2005. Another larger version of the map was presented to the United States in 2007 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel to mark the 500th anniversary of the naming of America. The map is stored safely in the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.
Three versions of the map are held by Minneapolis, Offenburg and the Bavarian State Library in Munich.
For a detailed view of the historical map, click here.