Tel 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Fax 44 (0)20 7589 4325
Email:[email protected]



Cornelis De Jode: Totivs Orbis Cogniti Vniversalis Descriptio

Map: WLD4331
Cartographer: Cornelis De Jode
Title: Totivs Orbis Cogniti Vniversalis Descriptio
Date: 1593
Published: Antwerp
Width: 21 inches / 54 cm
Height: 15 inches / 39 cm
Map ref: WLD4331
This map made its first and only appearance in the augmented 1593 second and last edition of the “Speculum Orbis Terrarum” or book of maps originally planned by Gerard de Jode. The first edition was initially conceived as a competitor for Abraham Ortelius’s “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” but Ortelius invoked his “Privilegium” or monopoly to delay its publication until it ran out in 1578. This gave him a crucial eight year start of sales of the “Theatrum.” The “Speculum” never caught up and sales were mediocre.

In 1593, Cornelis de Jode, son of Gerard, revised and augmented the “Speculum” before re-launching it, but by this point Ortelius’s works had an iron grip on the market and sales did not improve. Cornelis died at the young age of only 32 in 1600 and the plates for his work were purchased by another publisher, Johann Baptist Vrients. Shrewdly, Vrients also managed to purchase the plates for the Ortelius atlas when they became available and he suppressed de Jode’s plates in favour of his own issues of Ortelius’s “Theatrum.”

Although de Jode’s maps were lauded at the time, Ortelius had such control over the market that it is only recently that a new audience has begun to appreciate the maps of the “Speculum.”

Geographically, the map is derived from multiple sources. Superficially, the main similarities are to the early Ortelius map of the world of 1570 and Mercator’s world map of 1569. The distinct four land masses making up the North Pole are based on Mercator’s theory and map. The prominent North East and North West Passages are from Ortelius. Other features sourced from the Ortelius map include the shape of western Europe, the distinctive “kite-shaped” Japan and the vast unknown Southern Land including the note on the lower right that credits Marco Polo and Ludovico di Varthema for the description of the East. The rounded South America is based on Mercator but it was widely distributed by Ortelius. The shape of North America is based mainly on Mercator and similar to Ortelius but with some differences. Unlike Ortelius, de Jode notes that the Americas were discovered by Columbus but also they were named after Amerigo Vespucci after his voyage of 1497. The prominent bay on the northern shore of North America which is present on the Ortelius map has not been added to this map. Africa is broadly based on the portrayal by Ortelius but with greater detail. The peculiar shape of eastern Asia is based on Mercator’s map of 1569. The two curious hemispheres left and right of the title are based on Roger Bacon’s 13th century map projection.

There is some confusion about the attribution and dating of this map. The geography seems curiously antiquated. In the late 1580s, Cornelis would have had access to Ortelius’s, new updated map of the world, where the shape of South America has been substantially corrected and the North Pole had been converted into one landmass. The explanation may be that this map was originally engraved much earlier than 1589, when the map above was not available. The original map of the world included in the 1578 edition of the Speculum was on a cordiform projection. This rectangular projection was originally introduced by Ortelius in 1570 and proved highly successful. Gerard may have decided to emulate him for commercial reasons, belatedly introducing it into the second edition. Supporting this is Gerard’s signature as the engraver on the lower left of the map. The lower right corner bears the legend announcing Cornelis de Jode as the cartographer together with a date of 1589. Gerard would have been eighty years old on this date. It is possible that he would have been doing engraving when he was eighty but not very likely. The more feasible explanation was that Gerard had prepared this plate some years previously and Cornelis finished it.

Shirley 165 [WLD4331]