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Willem & Jan Blaeu: Oxonivm Comitatus, Vulgo Oxford Shire

Map: OXON511
 
Cartographer: Willem & Jan Blaeu
Title: Oxonivm Comitatus, Vulgo Oxford Shire
Date: 1646
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 20 inches / 51 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: OXON511
Description:
Lovely county map bordered with coats of arms. Rich, original hand-colour. The firm of Blaeu were the dominant mapmakers throughout much of the Golden Age of Dutch cartography. Established in 1596 by Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638), who had studied as a young man under the great astronomer, Tycho Brahe, it originally produced globes and scientific instruments. However, the firm soon expanded into map making and publishing, and eventually became one of the most important and prolific map producers in Amsterdam. In 1623 they published the "Het Licht der Zeevaerdt" an atlas of sea-charts. In 1629 Willem and his son Jan (1596-1673) purchased 37 engraved plates from the widow of their rival Hondius and the following year they produced their first land atlas, the "Atlantis Appendix" which contained sixty maps. In 1635 this was expanded into the "Atlas Novus" a major world atlas in six volumes. This contained a county atlas of England and Wales and from 1635-59 was published in editions in Dutch, Latin, French, German and Spanish. After the death of his father, Jan (also spelt Joan or Johannes) Blaeu embarked on one of the most ambitious publishing undertakings of the 17th Century, the printing of the "Atlas Maior". This magnificent work was to contain nearly six hundred maps and, depending on edition, varied between nine and twelve volumes. The exquisite engraving allied with typically lovely hand-colouring make maps from the "Novus" and "Maior" atlases some of the finest ever produced. The "Atlas Maior" was to be the crowning glory of the Blaeu firm. In 1672 a disastrous fire swept through the Blaeu printing house destroying much of the stock and most of the copper engraving plates. The following year Jan died and the surviving plates were dispersed. Reflecting the esteem in which they were held, Willem and Jan were each in turn appointed Hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company (the VOC) and their atlases were often presented to foreign sovereigns and potentates by the Dutch government.