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China - Korea - Japan, by Joan Blaeu, published by Frederick de Wit. c. 1691-97

The Blaeus: Willem Janszoon, Cornelis & Joan

Willem Jansz. Blaeu and his son Joan Blaeu are the most widely known cartographic publishers of the seventeenth century.

Willem Jansz. (also written Guilielmus Janssonius) = Willem Janszoon Blaeu, was born in Uitgeest (Netherlands), near Alkmaar in 1571. He studied mathematics under Tycho Brahe and learned the theory and practice of astronomical observations and the art of instrument- and globe making.

In 1596 he came to Amsterdam where he settled down as a globe-, instrument- and map-maker. He published his first cartographic work (a globe) in 1599 and probably published his first printed map (a map of the Netherlands) in 1604. He specialized in maritime cartography and published the first edition of the pilot guide Het Licht der Zeevaert in 1608, and was appointed Hydrographer of the V.O.C. (United East India Company) in 1633. After thirty years of publishing books, wall maps, globes, charts and pilot guides, he brought out his first atlas, Atlas Appendix (1630). This was the beginning of the great tradition of atlas-making by the Blaeus.

In 1618 another mapmaker, bookseller and publisher, Johannes Janssonius established himself in Amsterdam next door to Blaeu's shop. It is no wonder that these two neighbours, who began accusing each other of copying and stealing their information, became fierce competitors who did not have a good word to say about each other. In about 1621 Willem Jansz. decided to put an end to the confusion between his name and his competitor's, and assumed his grandfather's sobriquet, 'blauwe Willem' ('blue Willem'), as the family name; thereafter he called himself Willem Jansz. Blaeu.

Willem Janszoon Blaeu died in 1638, leaving his prospering business to his sons, Cornelis and Joan. Of Cornelis we only know that his name occurs in the prefaces of books and atlases until c. 1645.

Joan Blaeu, born in Amsterdam, 1596, became partner in his father’s book trade and printing business. In 1638 he was appointed his father’s successor in the Hydrographic office of the V.O.C. His efforts culminated in the magnificent Atlas Major and the town-books of the Netherlands and of Italy – works unsurpassed in history and in modern times, which gave eternal fame to the name of the Blaeus.

On February 23, 1672, a fire ruined the business. One year later, Dr. Joan Blaeu died. The fire of 1672 and the passing away of the director gave rise to a complete sale of the stock of the Blaeu House. Five public auctions dispersed the remaining books, atlases, copperplates, globes, etc., among many other map dealers and publishers in Amsterdam. The majority was acquired by a number of booksellers acting in partnership.

In the succeeding years, the remaining printing department was left in the hands of the Blaeu family until 1695 when also the inventory of the printing house was sold at a public auction. That meant the end of the Blaeus as a printing house of world renown.


Frederick de Wit (1630-1706)

The engraver and map-seller, Frederick de Wit, was born in Gouda (Netherlands) in 1630 as a son of Hendrick Fredericksz de Wit. Through his marriage with Maria van der Waag of Amsterdam in 1661, he obtained citizenship of the city where he had been working since 1648 and where he became one of the most famous engravers of maps of the second half of the 17th century. Although De Wit was a Catholic, which meant that he was not favoured at the time by the city council, he was awarded the honour of being listed as one of the "excellent citizens" on the roll of the city council in the years 1694-1704. However, his name was not written in the Guild of St. Luke book before 1664. At that time, he lived on the Kalverstraat "in de Witte Pascaert", where he stayed until his death in 1706. His earliest dates on maps engraved are 1659 (Regni Daniae) and 1660 (Worldmap).

Frederick de Wit published several world atlases, a sea atlas, and an atlas of the Netherlands.

The dating of the maps is difficult. However, as a privilege was granted in 1689, the annotation 'cum privilegio' marks an edition after 1688.

Around 1700 Frederick de Wit entered the market with a town atlas. He produced two volumes with in total 260 plans and views. Most of these were printed from plates used for Janssonius and Blaeu town atlases, respectively.

After he died in 1706, his widow continued the shop until 1709. The plates and stock of De Wit's atlas were sold to Covens & Mortier in 1710, who sold the atlas for a long period.

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Imperii Sinarum Nova Descriptio.

€1800  ($1908 / £1584)
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Item Number:  29431  new Authenticity Guarantee

Category:  Antique maps > Asia > China
References: Van der Krogt 2 - p. 593, 8410:2B; Carhart de Wit (2016) - p. 534, UB1.1

Old, antique map of China - Korea - Japan, by Joan Blaeu, published by Frederick de Wit.

Title: Imperii Sinarum Nova Descriptio.
Cum privilegio Sacrae Caesareae Majestatis, & Ordinum Belgicae Foederatae.

Cartographer: Martino Martini.

Date of the first edition: 1655.
Date of this map: c. 1691-97.

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Map size: 460 x 695mm (18.11 x 27.36 inches).
Sheet size: 540 x 630mm (21.26 x 24.8 inches).
Verso: Blank.
Condition: Original coloured, some offsetting, partially backed with archival paper.
Condition Rating: A.

From: De Wit Atlas. Amsterdam, c. 1691-97.

The Blaeus: Willem Janszoon, Cornelis & Joan

Willem Jansz. Blaeu and his son Joan Blaeu are the most widely known cartographic publishers of the seventeenth century.

Willem Jansz. (also written Guilielmus Janssonius) = Willem Janszoon Blaeu, was born in Uitgeest (Netherlands), near Alkmaar in 1571. He studied mathematics under Tycho Brahe and learned the theory and practice of astronomical observations and the art of instrument- and globe making.

In 1596 he came to Amsterdam where he settled down as a globe-, instrument- and map-maker. He published his first cartographic work (a globe) in 1599 and probably published his first printed map (a map of the Netherlands) in 1604. He specialized in maritime cartography and published the first edition of the pilot guide Het Licht der Zeevaert in 1608, and was appointed Hydrographer of the V.O.C. (United East India Company) in 1633. After thirty years of publishing books, wall maps, globes, charts and pilot guides, he brought out his first atlas, Atlas Appendix (1630). This was the beginning of the great tradition of atlas-making by the Blaeus.

In 1618 another mapmaker, bookseller and publisher, Johannes Janssonius established himself in Amsterdam next door to Blaeu's shop. It is no wonder that these two neighbours, who began accusing each other of copying and stealing their information, became fierce competitors who did not have a good word to say about each other. In about 1621 Willem Jansz. decided to put an end to the confusion between his name and his competitor's, and assumed his grandfather's sobriquet, 'blauwe Willem' ('blue Willem'), as the family name; thereafter he called himself Willem Jansz. Blaeu.

Willem Janszoon Blaeu died in 1638, leaving his prospering business to his sons, Cornelis and Joan. Of Cornelis we only know that his name occurs in the prefaces of books and atlases until c. 1645.

Joan Blaeu, born in Amsterdam, 1596, became partner in his father’s book trade and printing business. In 1638 he was appointed his father’s successor in the Hydrographic office of the V.O.C. His efforts culminated in the magnificent Atlas Major and the town-books of the Netherlands and of Italy – works unsurpassed in history and in modern times, which gave eternal fame to the name of the Blaeus.

On February 23, 1672, a fire ruined the business. One year later, Dr. Joan Blaeu died. The fire of 1672 and the passing away of the director gave rise to a complete sale of the stock of the Blaeu House. Five public auctions dispersed the remaining books, atlases, copperplates, globes, etc., among many other map dealers and publishers in Amsterdam. The majority was acquired by a number of booksellers acting in partnership.

In the succeeding years, the remaining printing department was left in the hands of the Blaeu family until 1695 when also the inventory of the printing house was sold at a public auction. That meant the end of the Blaeus as a printing house of world renown.


Frederick de Wit (1630-1706)

The engraver and map-seller, Frederick de Wit, was born in Gouda (Netherlands) in 1630 as a son of Hendrick Fredericksz de Wit. Through his marriage with Maria van der Waag of Amsterdam in 1661, he obtained citizenship of the city where he had been working since 1648 and where he became one of the most famous engravers of maps of the second half of the 17th century. Although De Wit was a Catholic, which meant that he was not favoured at the time by the city council, he was awarded the honour of being listed as one of the "excellent citizens" on the roll of the city council in the years 1694-1704. However, his name was not written in the Guild of St. Luke book before 1664. At that time, he lived on the Kalverstraat "in de Witte Pascaert", where he stayed until his death in 1706. His earliest dates on maps engraved are 1659 (Regni Daniae) and 1660 (Worldmap).

Frederick de Wit published several world atlases, a sea atlas, and an atlas of the Netherlands.

The dating of the maps is difficult. However, as a privilege was granted in 1689, the annotation 'cum privilegio' marks an edition after 1688.

Around 1700 Frederick de Wit entered the market with a town atlas. He produced two volumes with in total 260 plans and views. Most of these were printed from plates used for Janssonius and Blaeu town atlases, respectively.

After he died in 1706, his widow continued the shop until 1709. The plates and stock of De Wit's atlas were sold to Covens & Mortier in 1710, who sold the atlas for a long period.