Peter Apian (1495-1552). Cosmographia, sive, Descriptio universi orbis [Cosmographia or, Description of the universal sphere]. Antwerp, 1584. [D.20.13]
As one of the most read cosmographical texts of the 16th century, Apian’s Cosmographia would have been essential reading for scholars of Smith’s generation seeking to explore this subject. Although still heavily reliant on the teachings of the ancient astronomer Ptolemy, Apian sought to re-define the discipline of cosmography as 'the description of the world (Earth, Water, Air, & Fire), the Sun, the Moon, & all the stars, & of the heavens with whatever vault covers them.' Apian provides terrestrial grids, describes the use of maps and simple surveying, defines weather and climate, and provides thumbnail sketches of the continents. Initially published in 1524, the work underwent a complex transformation during the course of the century, culminating in the expanded version we see here by the Dutch instrument maker and mathematician, Gemma Frisius (1508–1555).