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Frederick De Wit: [Terra Australis Incognita]

Map: POLAR532
Cartographer: Frederick De Wit
Title: [Terra Australis Incognita]
Date: c. 1680
Published: Amsterdam
Width: 19 inches / 49 cm
Height: 17 inches / 44 cm
Map ref: POLAR532
This important map was first issued by Henricus Hondius in 1641, although there is now some discussion if this was the first year that it appeared; it typifies the tradition of the Dutch Gold Age of Cartography, with its wonderful, pictorial borders together with its advanced geography. The borders illustrates scenes from Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego including images of local inhabitants, penguins, hunting scenes and European landings at a native village. Geographically, this map has been cited as being one of the most important maps 17th century maps for both the South Pole and Australasia. Combining Spanish and Dutch exploration, it became the most widely disseminated map of this region and was continually updated into the late 17th century.

Our example is the last and most geographically complete version or the fourth state; namely, it shows the altered version of the Australian continent, with the annotation that it was discovered as such by Tasman in 1644; it also shows the area explored by de Witt; in addition, it includes the results of the landmark voyage by Abel Tasman, namely a part of the coastline of New Zealand together with another part of the coastline of Van Diemen's Land, both shown as being discovered in 1642. Finally, the islands of S. Paulo and Amsterdam are shown in the Indian Ocean.

The original publisher of this map, the firm of Henricus Hondius, was no longer active by this date and there is some confusion as to who continued to update and produce this map; R.V. Tooley, one of the most prominent cartographic scholars of the last century, records the existence of a version, or state, without any text on the reverse which was produced by Frederick de Wit. Our example has no text on the reverse suggesting de Wit was responsible for its inclusion in one of his superlative sea atlases; it is also in original hand-colour, making this one of the most beautiful and important maps of the South Polar Seas.

Original hand-colour. [POLAR532]