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British Isles by Blaeu, with three decorative borders 1631

The map has decorative borders on three sides. The top border is composed of two portraits, a coat of arms, and views and plans of towns, while the side borders consist of figures in the costumes of the country's various classes. For his first world atlas, the Atlantis Appendix of 1630, Blaeu had no British maps of his own ready. So he inserted a fine decorative map with costumed figures and two plans in the borders - using the plate which has been copied by Jodocus Hondius from the Visscher prototype a few years earlier. Blaeu's imprint has been substituted for Hondius, but all other features are unchanged, including the retention of the portrait of James I, who died in 1625. Either because of this anachronism or because the map was larger in size than those from Blaeu's other plates, the map was used for one more edition only, although copies were also on sale for a short time as separate sheets. The interesting border features were then erased, and the centre portion extended slightly to form the standard Blaeu map of the British Isles, first appearing in 1631. (Shirley)


The Blaeus: Willem Janszoon, Cornelis & Joan

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

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 specialised in maritime cartography, 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 publishing books, wall maps, globes, charts and pilot guides for thirty years, 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. No wonder these two neighbours began accusing each other of copying and stealing their information and became fierce competitors who did not have a good word to say about each other. In about 1621 Willem Jansz. decided to end the confusion between his name and his competitor's and assumed his grandfather's nickname, 'blauwe Willem' ('blue Willem'), as the family name; after that, he called himself Willem Jansz. Blaeu.

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

Joan Blaeu, born in Amsterdam in 1596, became a partner in his father’s book trade and printing business. 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 Italy – works unsurpassed in history and modern times, giving eternal fame to the name of the Blaeu's.

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 several booksellers acting in partnership.

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

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Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae Tabula.

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Item Number:  29586 Authenticity Guarantee

Category:  Antique maps > Europe > British Isles

Old, antique map of the British Isles by Willem Blaeu.

Between Schilder's second and third state (with three decorative borders).

Title: Magnae Britanniae et Hiberniae Tabula.
Amstelodami, Guiljelmus Blaeuw excudit.

Date of the first edition: before1629.
Date of this map: 1631.

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Map size: 415 x 555mm (16.34 x 21.85 inches).
Sheet size: 460 x 575mm (18.11 x 22.64 inches).
Verso: Latin text.
Condition: New bottom margin with the reinstatement of 4mm of the image.
Condition Rating: B.

 Separate publication.

The map has decorative borders on three sides. The top border is composed of two portraits, a coat of arms, and views and plans of towns, while the side borders consist of figures in the costumes of the country's various classes. For his first world atlas, the Atlantis Appendix of 1630, Blaeu had no British maps of his own ready. So he inserted a fine decorative map with costumed figures and two plans in the borders - using the plate which has been copied by Jodocus Hondius from the Visscher prototype a few years earlier. Blaeu's imprint has been substituted for Hondius, but all other features are unchanged, including the retention of the portrait of James I, who died in 1625. Either because of this anachronism or because the map was larger in size than those from Blaeu's other plates, the map was used for one more edition only, although copies were also on sale for a short time as separate sheets. The interesting border features were then erased, and the centre portion extended slightly to form the standard Blaeu map of the British Isles, first appearing in 1631. (Shirley)


The Blaeus: Willem Janszoon, Cornelis & Joan

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

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 specialised in maritime cartography, 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 publishing books, wall maps, globes, charts and pilot guides for thirty years, 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. No wonder these two neighbours began accusing each other of copying and stealing their information and became fierce competitors who did not have a good word to say about each other. In about 1621 Willem Jansz. decided to end the confusion between his name and his competitor's and assumed his grandfather's nickname, 'blauwe Willem' ('blue Willem'), as the family name; after that, he called himself Willem Jansz. Blaeu.

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

Joan Blaeu, born in Amsterdam in 1596, became a partner in his father’s book trade and printing business. 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 Italy – works unsurpassed in history and modern times, giving eternal fame to the name of the Blaeu's.

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 several booksellers acting in partnership.

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

References: Van der Krogt 2 - p. 554, 5000:2.1; Shirley (BI to 1650) - p: 149 411; Schilder 6 - p; 360-361, between 86.2 and 86.3

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