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America by G. Mercator

After the death of the great Gerard Mercator in 1594 it was left to his son Rumold to publish the last of three parts that formed his famous atlas, the Atlantis Pars Altera. The atlas was finished with a number of maps engraved by various descendants of Gerard. The task of the American map was given to his grandson Michael. The only printed map known to be by him, it is beautifully engraved.
It is a hemispherical map contained within an attractive floral design, and surrounded by four roundels, one of which contains the title. The other three contains maps of the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and Hispaniola, all spheres of Spanish influence. The general outline is largely taken from Rumold Mercator's world map of 1587, with a little more detail added. A few of the most famous theories are still present: a large inland lake in Canada, two of the four islands of the North Pole, a bulge to the west coast of South America and the large southern continent. It does not show any knowledge of the English in Virginia, which is possibly a reflection of their failure by then. A large St. Lawrence River is shown originating half way across the continent. (Burden)


Gerard Mercator (1512 – 1594)

Gerard Mercator was born as Gerard de Cremere in Rupelmonde (near Antwerp) on 5 March 1512.

Young Gerard learned what Latin he could in Rupelmonde, and when he was about fifteen, his uncle sent him to ’s Hertogenbosch to study at a school run by the Brothers of the Common Life. One of Mercator’s teachers was the celebrated humanist Macropedius. After three and a half years with the brothers, Gerard went to Louvain, where he enrolled in the university in 1530 as one of the poor students at Castle College.

By this time, he had Latinized his name to Mercator. He studied philosophy and took his master’s degree in 1532. The problems of the creation of the Universe and the Earth interested him in particular; this is reflected by his works, written in later years.

After spending a few years in Antwerp, he returned to Louvain c. 1535, where he took courses in mathematics under the guidance of Gemma Frisius. Soon he was recognised as an expert on the construction of mathematical instruments, as a land-surveyor and, after 1537, as a cartographer. He drew his income from these activities after his marriage on 3 August 1536. He also qualified himself as a copper-engraver; he was the first in history to introduce the italic handwriting to this trade. The first maps, drawn and engraved by Gerard Mercator are: Palestine, 1537; the world in double heart-shaped projection, 1538; and Flanders, 1540.

In 1544, Mercator came into great danger: he was arrested on the accusation of heresy and put into jail. Thanks to intervention of the University of Louvain, he was released after four months. In 1552, he moved with his family into the city of Duisburg (Germany). In 1560, Mercator became cosmographer in service of the Duke of Jülich-Cleve-Berge and in 1563 he became lecturer at the Grammar School of the new University in Duisburg. During this period, he made wall-maps of Europe, 1554; of Loraine, 1564; the British Isles, 1564; and the famous map of the world with increasing latitudes, 1569. About this time, Mercator was also working on the project for a complete description of the Creation, the Heavens, Earth, and Sea and a world history. Out of this resulted his Atlas, sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura. He worked also on an edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia which appeared in 1578. The first part of his book with modern maps (France, Germany and the Netherlands) appeared in 1585.

Shortly after the publication of the second part of his map-book (not yet called Atlas) with the maps of Italy (1589), he had a stroke which brought an end to his extremely great productivity. The great man passed away on 2 December 1594, leaving the responsibility of finishing the map-book to his son Rumold. The final part of it appeared in 1595. Its title is Pars Altera and it constitutes an essential part of what was then called Mercator’s Atlas.

The map of Europe and the world map in the Atlas are by Rumold Mercator. After Rumold’s death in 1599, the Atlas was reissued once more in 1602.

The plates of the maps, both of the Ptolemy edition and the Atlas, were sold in 1604 to Jodocus Hondius of Amsterdam. The following year Hondius managed to bring out Ptolemy’s Geographia. In the following year, 1606, the first Amsterdam edition of the Mercator Atlas appeared. From then to 1638, the Atlas saw many enlarged editions in various languages.

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America sive India Nova ad magnae Gerardi Mercatoris avi Universalis imitationem in compendium redacta. Per Michaelem Mercatorem Duysburgensem. - Gerard Mercator, 1623.

€2700  ($3186 / £2484)
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Item Number:  131
Category:  Antique maps > America > The Americas

Old map of the Western Hemisphere by G. Mercator.
With 3 insets, small corner circular maps: Gulf of Mexico; Cuba and Hispaniola.

Date of the first edition: 1595
Date of this map: 1623

Copper engraving
Size: 37 x 46cm (14.4 x 17.9 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Contemporary old coloured, old repair in left margin, some light creasing in centre.
Condition Rating: A
References: Burden 87; Van der Krogt 1, 9000:1A, Karrow, 56/17.13; Wagner, 179.

From: Gerardi Mercatoris - Atlas sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi et Fabricati Figura. Denuo auctus Editio Quinta. H. Hondius. 1623. (Van der Krogt 1, 105)

Engraved by G. Mercators' son, Michael. First edition in Duisburg, 1595.

After the death of the great Gerard Mercator in 1594 it was left to his son Rumold to publish the last of three parts that formed his famous atlas, the Atlantis Pars Altera. The atlas was finished with a number of maps engraved by various descendants of Gerard. The task of the American map was given to his grandson Michael. The only printed map known to be by him, it is beautifully engraved.
It is a hemispherical map contained within an attractive floral design, and surrounded by four roundels, one of which contains the title. The other three contains maps of the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and Hispaniola, all spheres of Spanish influence. The general outline is largely taken from Rumold Mercator's world map of 1587, with a little more detail added. A few of the most famous theories are still present: a large inland lake in Canada, two of the four islands of the North Pole, a bulge to the west coast of South America and the large southern continent. It does not show any knowledge of the English in Virginia, which is possibly a reflection of their failure by then. A large St. Lawrence River is shown originating half way across the continent. (Burden)


Gerard Mercator (1512 – 1594)

Gerard Mercator was born as Gerard de Cremere in Rupelmonde (near Antwerp) on 5 March 1512.

Young Gerard learned what Latin he could in Rupelmonde, and when he was about fifteen, his uncle sent him to ’s Hertogenbosch to study at a school run by the Brothers of the Common Life. One of Mercator’s teachers was the celebrated humanist Macropedius. After three and a half years with the brothers, Gerard went to Louvain, where he enrolled in the university in 1530 as one of the poor students at Castle College.

By this time, he had Latinized his name to Mercator. He studied philosophy and took his master’s degree in 1532. The problems of the creation of the Universe and the Earth interested him in particular; this is reflected by his works, written in later years.

After spending a few years in Antwerp, he returned to Louvain c. 1535, where he took courses in mathematics under the guidance of Gemma Frisius. Soon he was recognised as an expert on the construction of mathematical instruments, as a land-surveyor and, after 1537, as a cartographer. He drew his income from these activities after his marriage on 3 August 1536. He also qualified himself as a copper-engraver; he was the first in history to introduce the italic handwriting to this trade. The first maps, drawn and engraved by Gerard Mercator are: Palestine, 1537; the world in double heart-shaped projection, 1538; and Flanders, 1540.

In 1544, Mercator came into great danger: he was arrested on the accusation of heresy and put into jail. Thanks to intervention of the University of Louvain, he was released after four months. In 1552, he moved with his family into the city of Duisburg (Germany). In 1560, Mercator became cosmographer in service of the Duke of Jülich-Cleve-Berge and in 1563 he became lecturer at the Grammar School of the new University in Duisburg. During this period, he made wall-maps of Europe, 1554; of Loraine, 1564; the British Isles, 1564; and the famous map of the world with increasing latitudes, 1569. About this time, Mercator was also working on the project for a complete description of the Creation, the Heavens, Earth, and Sea and a world history. Out of this resulted his Atlas, sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura. He worked also on an edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia which appeared in 1578. The first part of his book with modern maps (France, Germany and the Netherlands) appeared in 1585.

Shortly after the publication of the second part of his map-book (not yet called Atlas) with the maps of Italy (1589), he had a stroke which brought an end to his extremely great productivity. The great man passed away on 2 December 1594, leaving the responsibility of finishing the map-book to his son Rumold. The final part of it appeared in 1595. Its title is Pars Altera and it constitutes an essential part of what was then called Mercator’s Atlas.

The map of Europe and the world map in the Atlas are by Rumold Mercator. After Rumold’s death in 1599, the Atlas was reissued once more in 1602.

The plates of the maps, both of the Ptolemy edition and the Atlas, were sold in 1604 to Jodocus Hondius of Amsterdam. The following year Hondius managed to bring out Ptolemy’s Geographia. In the following year, 1606, the first Amsterdam edition of the Mercator Atlas appeared. From then to 1638, the Atlas saw many enlarged editions in various languages.