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In the early 16th century, Petrus Apianus surprised the world with a new printing technique, which allowed maps to be copied in a quick and elegant way. This new technique is called stereotype. The essence of this method is that the names on the map were not carved, but typeset, and of that, a thin metal plate was cast. The names on the plate were cut out and placed in the troughs on the printing block.

We are certain that the first map printed using this technique was the Tabula Hungariae, and it was Apianus’ first work. Later, he copied all his maps using this technique, and his son, Philippus also did so when he had his famous map of Bavaria printed.

The number of printing blocks used varied, but the size of the paper was a guideline. The Tabula Hungariae was printed using four blocks. (The presumed appearance of the blocks is shown on the picture to the left)

A characteristic fault of this method was that the nameplates fixed with resin often fell off due to stress, and so deficient maps were also published. Sometimes the plates were put back, but often they were put in the wrong place or not put back at all.

Signs of this can be seen on the only known copy of the Tabula Hungariae. There are several unnamed settlements. From the first block, 71, from the second, 45, and from the third and the fourth, 8-8 names were missing. Therefore, the blocks used were differently worn. The lack of names also tells us that the only known copy wasn’t the first one to be printed, and the names appearing on later editions show that the creators used different versions of the first edition. We can presume that full versions with 1558 names also existed.


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