Ambassador's Globe

Date: c. 1525
Owner: Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale
Source Type: Artifacts


This globe from c. 1525 depicts the far-spread regions of the world that the Spanish and Portuguese had been exploring since the fifteenth century. The most accurate coastlines are of Western Europe and the Mediterranean, but this cartographer was quite familiar with the Atlantic coasts of Africa and South America as well. The Portuguese had been surveying the African coast for over one hundred years and several of their trading posts are included on this globe. The detail of America's Atlantic coast is even more impressive, especially considering this entire hemisphere was unknown forty years earlier. The Caribbean Islands, the first region of the New World to be explored, all have fairly accurate coasts and important features of the mainland, like the mouth of the Amazon River, are also included. In 1525, the American interior and the Pacific Coast were still terra incognita. Although globes are still far more accurate geographical representations than maps, they were especially necessary in the years before Mercator pioneered the use of mathematics to project spaces on the round earth onto a flat map. Cosmographers could achieve a high degree of geographical accuracy by charting places on a globe with lines of latitude and longitude, but globes were bulky and difficult to create, thus they were less useful than maps for navigators at sea.
CITATION: Ambassador's Globe. Nuremberg, c. 1525. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Call number: 2003 1481.