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America on the Swedish coronation Orb

Simplified illustrations of America as depicted on the Riksapple globe

The "riksäpplet", the coronation orb of King Erik XIV of Sweden, still kept in the Royal Treasury, was originally made in 1561 by Dutch craftsman Cornelius ver Weiden, but apparently its world map decoration was added by Frantz Beijer of Antwerp in 1568 (the year Erik was deposed, as it happened) probably using information from one of the great local cartographers such as Ortelius- or rather, using second-hand Italian information which the likes of Ortelius were borrowing as a basis for their work.

Even with the best information available, the craftsman got it wrong, for North America and the West Indies appear in mirror-image on the orb [see the small inset view on the illustration- from which, by the way, merely decorative details have been omitted]. They probably copied the outlines of each continent from flat maps to the globe surface using paper transfers, and got one sheet back-to-front.

But that's not the reason why this unusual globe is featured on these pages. Because it was made for a Swedish king, it has been claimed that it is based on cartography by forgotten Scandinavian explorers, and that it shows details of North America not known to contemporary navigators, such as the Hudson River. Unfortunately, any American will swiftly confirm that it's not very convincing. The actual courses of the rivers are guesswork- and their estuaries certainly were known to 16th century explorers. In fact, the representation of America on this globe is just a rather over-simplified interpretation of Italian mapping from the 1550s and early 1560s.

For a general outline of the development of mapping of the east coast of North America see here.