Matthus Merian Sr, born in Basel in the year 1593 was an eminent Swiss engraver. He learned copperplate engraving in Zurich. Before returning to his birthplace in 1615, Matthus Merian Sr studied and worked in Paris, Nancy and Strasbourg. In 1616, he shifted to Frankfurt, where he spent most of his life. At Frankfurt, he worked for Johann Theodor de Bry. Matthus married Maria Magdalena, the daughter of the publisher, in 1617. He took over the publishing business of de Bry in 1623 and became an independent publisher. After several years of illness, Matthus Merian Sr died in Bad Schwalbach in 1650.
In his early life, Matthus Merian Sr produced a number of town plans. He is known for his unique style. The plan of Basel is an exemplar of his style. He is said to have produced Topographia Germaniae in 21 volumes, in association with his son and Martin Zeiler, a German geographer. The series included many town plans and views. It also contains a world map and the maps of various countries. Matthus also completed the works of de Bry, which were started in 1590. The editions of the Petits Voyages and Grand Voyages were also completed by Matthus Merian Sr.