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Sicily - Messina by Blaeu - Mortier

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.


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

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

The house Covens & Mortier (1721-1866), was founded by Johannes Covens I (1697-1774) and Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783), at the Vijgendam in Amsterdam.

The collaboration started after the death of Pieter Mortier (1661-1711), son of a French political refugee, who in 1690 had obtained the privilege to distribute maps and atlases of French publishers in Holland. His widow continued the business until she died in 1719. Her son Cornelis, under his father's name, 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 with 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. From 1778 a new company name was added:

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 those of: Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. For decades, an impressive number of atlases came from the press.

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Messina Ville de la Sicile - J. Blaeu - Covens & Mortier.

€500  ($580 / £455)
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Item Number:  18139
Category:  Antique maps > Europe > Italy - Cities

Old, antique map of Sicily - Messina by Blaeu - Mortier

Copper engraving
Size: 41.5 x 52cm (16.2 x 20.3 inches)
Verso: Blank
Condition: Coloured.

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.


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

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

The house Covens & Mortier (1721-1866), was founded by Johannes Covens I (1697-1774) and Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783), at the Vijgendam in Amsterdam.

The collaboration started after the death of Pieter Mortier (1661-1711), son of a French political refugee, who in 1690 had obtained the privilege to distribute maps and atlases of French publishers in Holland. His widow continued the business until she died in 1719. Her son Cornelis, under his father's name, 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 with 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. From 1778 a new company name was added:

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 those of: Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. For decades, an impressive number of atlases came from the press.

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