The Vinland Map and the Tartar Relation


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New Edition

R. A. Skelton, Thomas E. Marston, and George D. Painter; Foreword by Alexander O. Vieter; Introduction by George D. Painter; Essays by Wilcomb E. Washborn, Thomas A. Cahill, Bruce H. Kusko, and Lawrence C. Witten, II

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The Vinland Map, dated to about A.D. 1440—at least fifty years before Columbus landed in the Americas—is a unique map of the world that shows an outline of the northeast American coast and a legend describing its discovery in about 1000 by Leif Eiriksson, the Norseman from Greenland. The map was published by Yale University Press in 1965 and generated an enormous amount of debate. Chemical analysis of the ink later suggested the map might be a forgery, but recent appraisals of both scientific and humanist evidence argue that it is indeed authentic.

Now, on the thirtieth anniversary of its original publication, here is this classic of historical cartography in a new edition. It reprints unaltered the original text on the Vinland Map and an account of Friar John of Plano Carpini's mission to the Mongols from 1245 to 1247, with which the map had at some stage been bound. To this have been added a new introduction by George D. Painter, sole survivor of the original team of editors, who discusses the verification of the map's authenticity; a new essay by Wilcomb E. Washburn, director of the Smithsonian's American Studies Program, on the map's provenance and the tests that have been performed on it; and a new discussion of the map's compositional and structural aspects by Thomas A. Cahill and Bruce H. Kusko, of the Crocker Historical and Archaeological Projects at the University of California, Davis. There is also an account by Laurence C. Witten II, the rare-book dealer who sold the map to the benefactor who donated it anonymously to the Yale University Library.

The late R. A. Skelton was superintendent of the Map Room of the British Museum. The late Thomas E. Marston was curator of medieval and renaissance literature at the Yale University Library. George D. Painter is assistant keeper emeritus of printed books at the British Museum and the author of Marcel
Proust: A Biography

A selection of the History Book Club

"Important and fascinating....A thriller not to be missed."—Gwyn Jones, New York Review of Books

"As interesting and informative a reading experience as you can desire."—Robert R. Kirsch, Los Angeles Times

"The story of the discovery reads like a mystery story and should commend itself to all lovers of early books and incunabula. The entire production of the work has been carried through with extraordinary care."—Herbert Musurillo, America

"The most exciting cartographic discovery of the century."—Kenneth Nebenzahl, Chicago Daily News

"Full of information, bizarre or learned or both, on medieval bookbinding, papermaking, handwriting, mapmaking, the habits of bookworms, and Tartary under the khans."—Phoebe-Lou Adams, Atlantic

"One of the most important books ever published concerning the history of discovery and exploration relating to the New World."—Library Journal

"The map and the 'Tartar Relation' together make up a discovery, most ably, even brilliantly, expounded, which enlarges our views of the range of medieval European activities into eastern Asia and into the western Atlantic."—New Statesman
ISBN: 9780300065206
Publication Date: January 24, 1996
368 pages, 9 x 11 1/2