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Blaeu Map of the World and its Derivatives


Blaeu (Willem): Nova Totius Terrarum Geographica Orbis Ac Hydrographica Tabula, first published 1606
Hand-coloured engraved map, French text on verso, 22 x 16 inches (550 x 410 mm),[Shirley 255]

This is one of the most famous landmarks of the 17th cartography. Engraved and signed by Joshua van den Ende, it first appeared as a separate publication in 1606. In 1630 it was incorporated into Blaeu's "Atlantis Appendix" and then into the "Atlas Novus" in all subsequent editions until 1658. Its influence was enormous, and it was closely copied by some of the greatest Dutch cartographers, such as Pieter Van der Keere and Jansson. Others, such as Hondius, were forced to produce their own highly decorative maps to compete.
Geographically, the map was a reduction of Blaeu's large map of the world published in 1605. The charming cartouche in the interior of North America mentions its discovery by Columbus in 1492 and being named after Amerigo Vespucci in 1499. There is some confusion in the depiction of the landmass of the East coast of the United States, probably as a result of Indian reports of large bodies of water inland, almost certainly the Great Lakes. California is correctly shown as a peninsula. The Le Maire straits, separating Tierra del Fuego from South America, copied from an earlier map by Hondius, are clearly shown. In the north, a note beside "Nova Zembla" in the Arctic declares that it was reached by Willem Barents in 1596. In the Far East Korea is shown as an island and northern Australia is shown without any place-names.
Decoratively the most striking features of this map are the magnificent and innovative panelled borders. The upper border shows allegorical figures of the sun and moon and the five known planets; Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. Along the bottom border are depictions of the seven wonders of the ancient world; the hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus at Rhodes, the Pyramids, the Mausoleum of Hallicarnansus, the Temple of Diana, the Statue of Jupiter and the Lighthouse at Alexandria. Running down the left hand side of the map are representations of the four elements (Fire, Air, Water and Earth) and on the right, the Four Seasons.


Keere (Pieter van den): Nove Totius terrarum Orbis Geographica Ac Hydrographica Tabula, from 'Atlantis Maioris Appendix', Amsterdam, Hondius and Jansson, [c.1630].
Hand-coloured engraved map, 21 x 16 inches (530 x 400 mm), [Shirley 264 (State 4)]

Originally published in 1608, this map is an unashamed copy of Willem Blaeu's map of two years earlier [see above]. It was acquired by Jan Jansson in the 1620s and both he and Hondius issued it intermittently. This is the fourth state with the addition of Jansson's name but with the date excised.
As is to be expected from such a master engraver as Pieter van den Keere it is a wonderfully elaborate example of the cartographer's art and although a copy of the Blaeu map, it is in no way inferior to the orignal engraving. The borders are particularly ornate and identical to those of the Blaeu map; the seas are embellished with ships and sea monsters. One of the most obvious additions to the van den Keere map is the inclusion of descriptive text, it appears at the top left and top right sides of the map and relates to the North-East and the North-West Passages.


Pitt (Moses): Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica Ac Hydrographica Tabula, from "The English Atlas" (Oxford, 1680).
Hand-coloured engraved map, 21 x 16 inches (530 x 400 mm). [Shirley 504]

This map is the final incarnation of the plate engraved by Pieter van den Keere. In this the last state of the map it was included in an ill-fated attempt by two Englishmen Moses Pitt and Steven Swart, together with Jansson's heir Johannes Janssonius a Waesbergen to publish a twelve volume English Atlas. As happened with depressing regularity in fine book publishing in the 17th and 18th centuries, their ambitions were greater than their means and they were forced into bankruptcy, Moses Pitt spending time in debtor's prison.
The map retains the beautiful figurative borders but the configuration of the world has been somewhat updated since it was first engraved in 1606; California is now shown as an island and Nova Hollandia (Australia) has been added in part outline. The two polar maps at the bottom corners of the map have been redrawn and the two lower cartouches have been erased. The removal of the original cartouche bearing Keere's name and the description of America, along with the change to the geography of the West Coast of America, would have left the map with a spacious gap. Pitt chose to fill this with a cartouche of the arms of his patron, the Lord Bishop of Oxford.


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