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Atlas title page, by Covens & Mortier. 1733

Covens & Mortier. A Map Publishing House in Amsterdam. 1721-1866.

For almost two centuries, the most significant and crucial Dutch publishing house in commercial cartography was the Amsterdam firm of Covens & Mortier. Concerning quantity, it was the biggest contemporary map-trading house worldwide. They distributed innumerable maps, atlases, globes, and books.

Pieter (Pierre) Mortier (Leiden, 1661 – Amsterdam, 1711)

Nothing is known about the youth of Pieter Mortier. He studied in Paris from 1681 to approximately 1685. He must have come into contact with French 'libraires' and learned the bookselling trade there. In 1685, he returned to Amsterdam and opened a small bookshop. He joined the Book, Art Sellers' and Printers' Guild in the same year.

Pieter sold books in Dutch and foreign languages, but he also published books on his own, usually in French. His business flourished so much that in 1688, he was forced to rent another house on the Vijgendam.

Pieter Mortier's first privilege for maps was granted by the States of Holland and West Friesland on September 15 1690. It refers to the maps of Sanson that he 'is printing and correcting with great pains and care'.

Pieter began the large-scale publication of maps and atlases. By the beginning of the 18th century, Pieter had become so wealthy that he could purchase three houses in Amsterdam: the Beurssluis, on the Vijgendam, and the Heremietensteeg. He rebuilt the house on the Vijgendam into a large, prestigious house that would serve for over a century as a shop, business, and residential structure for Covens & Mortier's publishing house.

He died on February 13, 1711, after a brief illness. The company continued under Pieter's widow's management, Amelia' s-Gravesande.

After she died in 1719, her son, Cornelis, took over the management for a few years.

On November 20, 1721, a company was founded by Cornelis Mortier and Johannes Covens I. The latter was married the same year to Cornelis's sister. From that year on, the name of :

Covens & Mortier.

Their firm would see a massive expansion in the next 140 years. In 1732, the heirs sold the property to their brother Cornelis and his partner Covens. Their main competitors were Reinier & Josua Ottens and Gerard Valck & Petrus Schenck. After the death of Johannes Covens I (1774), his son Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) entered the business. In 1778, Johannes added a new company name :

J. Covens & Son.

Johannes Covens II was succeeded by his son Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who, in turn, brought Peter Mortier IV, the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I, into the business. The name was from 1794 to 1866:

Mortier, Covens & Son.

The last Covens in the series was Cornelis Johannes Covens (1806-1880).

Covens & Mortier had a large stock of atlases and maps, including Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, and Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. For decades, an impressive number of atlases came from the press.

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Atlas Novus - Atlas-Nouveau Contenant toutes les parties du Monde &c.

€1100  ($1188 / £935)
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Item Number:  12544 Authenticity Guarantee

Category:  Antique maps > Curiosities

Engraved atlas title page, by Covens & Mortier, engraved by Romain de Hooghe.

Title: Atlas Novus - Atlas-Nouveau Contenant toutes les parties du Monde &c.

Date: 1733.

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 495 x 280mm (19.49 x 11.02 inches).
Verso: Blank.
Condition: Old coloured, tear in bottom margin reinforced (outside the image).
Condition Rating: A.

From: Atlas Novus - Atlas-Nouveau Contenant toutes les parties du Monde &c. Amsterdam, Covens & Mortier, 1733.

Covens & Mortier. A Map Publishing House in Amsterdam. 1721-1866.

For almost two centuries, the most significant and crucial Dutch publishing house in commercial cartography was the Amsterdam firm of Covens & Mortier. Concerning quantity, it was the biggest contemporary map-trading house worldwide. They distributed innumerable maps, atlases, globes, and books.

Pieter (Pierre) Mortier (Leiden, 1661 – Amsterdam, 1711)

Nothing is known about the youth of Pieter Mortier. He studied in Paris from 1681 to approximately 1685. He must have come into contact with French 'libraires' and learned the bookselling trade there. In 1685, he returned to Amsterdam and opened a small bookshop. He joined the Book, Art Sellers' and Printers' Guild in the same year.

Pieter sold books in Dutch and foreign languages, but he also published books on his own, usually in French. His business flourished so much that in 1688, he was forced to rent another house on the Vijgendam.

Pieter Mortier's first privilege for maps was granted by the States of Holland and West Friesland on September 15 1690. It refers to the maps of Sanson that he 'is printing and correcting with great pains and care'.

Pieter began the large-scale publication of maps and atlases. By the beginning of the 18th century, Pieter had become so wealthy that he could purchase three houses in Amsterdam: the Beurssluis, on the Vijgendam, and the Heremietensteeg. He rebuilt the house on the Vijgendam into a large, prestigious house that would serve for over a century as a shop, business, and residential structure for Covens & Mortier's publishing house.

He died on February 13, 1711, after a brief illness. The company continued under Pieter's widow's management, Amelia' s-Gravesande.

After she died in 1719, her son, Cornelis, took over the management for a few years.

On November 20, 1721, a company was founded by Cornelis Mortier and Johannes Covens I. The latter was married the same year to Cornelis's sister. From that year on, the name of :

Covens & Mortier.

Their firm would see a massive expansion in the next 140 years. In 1732, the heirs sold the property to their brother Cornelis and his partner Covens. Their main competitors were Reinier & Josua Ottens and Gerard Valck & Petrus Schenck. After the death of Johannes Covens I (1774), his son Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) entered the business. In 1778, Johannes added a new company name :

J. Covens & Son.

Johannes Covens II was succeeded by his son Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who, in turn, brought Peter Mortier IV, the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I, into the business. The name was from 1794 to 1866:

Mortier, Covens & Son.

The last Covens in the series was Cornelis Johannes Covens (1806-1880).

Covens & Mortier had a large stock of atlases and maps, including Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, and Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. For decades, an impressive number of atlases came from the press.

References: Shirley (Titlepages) - #72

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