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The eastern Balkan, by Abraham Ortelius. 1612

Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598)

The maker of the 'first atlas,' the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), was born on 4 April 1527 into an old Antwerp family. He learned Latin and studied Greek and mathematics.
Abraham and his sisters Anne and Elizabeth, took up map colouring. He was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke as an "illuminator of maps." Besides colouring maps, Ortelius was a dealer in antiques, coins, maps, and books, with the book and map trade gradually becoming his primary occupation.
Business went well because his means permitted him to start an extensive collection of medals, coins, and antiques, as well as a library of many volumes. He traveled a lot and visited Italy and France, made contacts everywhere with scholars and editors, and maintained an extensive correspondence with them.

In 1564 he published his first map, a large and ambitious wall map of the world. The inspiration for this map may well have been Gastaldi's large world map. In 1565 he published a map of Egypt and a map of the Holy Land, a large map of Asia followed.
In 1568 the production of individual maps for his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was already in full swing. The atlas was completed in the year 1569, and in May of 1570, the Theatrum was available for sale. It was one of the most expensive books ever published.
This first edition contained seventy maps on fifty-three sheets.The maps were engraved by Franciscus Hogenberg.
Later editions included Additamenta (additions) that later resulted in Ortelius' historical atlas, the Parergon, mostly bound together with the atlas. The Parergon can be called a truly original work of Ortelius, who drew the maps based on his own research.

The importance of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum for geographical knowledge in the last quarter of the sixteenth century is difficult to overemphasize. There was nothing else like it until Mercator's atlas appeared twenty-five years later. Demand for the Theatrum was remarkable. Altogether some 24 editions appeared during Ortelius's lifetime and another 10 after his death in 1598. Editions had been published in Dutch, German, French, Spanish, English, and Italian. The number of map sheets grew from 53 in 1570 to 167 in 1612, in the last edition.

In 1577, engraver Philip Galle and poet-translator Pieter Heyns published the first pocket-sized edition of the Theatrum, the Epitome. The work was very popular. Over thirty editions of this Epitome were published in different languages.


Giacomo Gastaldi (c. 1500 – 1566)

Giacomo Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, in Piedmont, to a wealthy family. Although he is considered one of the greatest cartographers of the sixteenth century, the events of his life and his professional training in the field of cartography are unknown to us until he arrives in Venice, where, in 1539, he obtained a perpetual printing privilege from the Venetian Senate.

One of the first Venetian contacts took place with the geographer and humanist Giovanni Battista Ramusio, with whom he collaborated. At the beginning of the 1540s, Gastaldi was already an established cartographer and began to work on a series of maps first published separately and then included in the Italian edition of Ptolemy's Geography of 1548, together with others made from scratch.

By the 1540s he had developed his own distinctive style of copper engraving for his increasingly prolific output of maps. His maps were used as a source by many mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Forlani, Ramusio, Cock, Luchini and Ortelius.

With the support of his influential friendships, Gastaldi also obtained public positions: in 1549, the Council of Ten commissioned him to make a large map of Africa, for a wall from the armoury in the Doge's Palace and, again for the same room, one map of Asia and one of North America.

It is difficult to quantify the number of maps he produced; more than a hundred have been attributed to him.
Paolo Forlani collaborated for a long time with Gastaldi and published numerous counterfeits and not authorized editions.
Gastaldi died in Venice on 14 October 1566.

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Romaniae (quae olim Thracia dicta) Vicinarumque Regionum, uti Bulgariae, Walachia, Syrfiae, Etc. Auctore Iacobo Castaldo.

€370  ($432.9 / £314.5)
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Item Number:  23096
Category:  Antique maps > Europe > Southeastern Europe
References: Van den Broecke - #159 Variant B; Karrow - 1/151; Van der Krogt 3 - 7602:31

Old, antique map of the eastern Balkan, by Abraham Ortelius.

Cartographer: Jacob Gastaldi

Date of the first edition: 1584
Date of this map: 1612
Date on map: 1584

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 36.5 x 50.5cm (14.2 x 19.7 inches)
Verso text: Latin
Condition: Later colouring.
Condition Rating: A
References: Van der Krogt 3, 7602:31; Van den Broecke, 159, Karrow, 1/151.

From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Abrahami Ortelii Antverp. Antwerpen, Plantin Press (J. & B. Moretus), 1612. (Van der Krogt 3, 1:055)

Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598)

The maker of the 'first atlas,' the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), was born on 4 April 1527 into an old Antwerp family. He learned Latin and studied Greek and mathematics.
Abraham and his sisters Anne and Elizabeth, took up map colouring. He was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke as an "illuminator of maps." Besides colouring maps, Ortelius was a dealer in antiques, coins, maps, and books, with the book and map trade gradually becoming his primary occupation.
Business went well because his means permitted him to start an extensive collection of medals, coins, and antiques, as well as a library of many volumes. He traveled a lot and visited Italy and France, made contacts everywhere with scholars and editors, and maintained an extensive correspondence with them.

In 1564 he published his first map, a large and ambitious wall map of the world. The inspiration for this map may well have been Gastaldi's large world map. In 1565 he published a map of Egypt and a map of the Holy Land, a large map of Asia followed.
In 1568 the production of individual maps for his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was already in full swing. The atlas was completed in the year 1569, and in May of 1570, the Theatrum was available for sale. It was one of the most expensive books ever published.
This first edition contained seventy maps on fifty-three sheets.The maps were engraved by Franciscus Hogenberg.
Later editions included Additamenta (additions) that later resulted in Ortelius' historical atlas, the Parergon, mostly bound together with the atlas. The Parergon can be called a truly original work of Ortelius, who drew the maps based on his own research.

The importance of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum for geographical knowledge in the last quarter of the sixteenth century is difficult to overemphasize. There was nothing else like it until Mercator's atlas appeared twenty-five years later. Demand for the Theatrum was remarkable. Altogether some 24 editions appeared during Ortelius's lifetime and another 10 after his death in 1598. Editions had been published in Dutch, German, French, Spanish, English, and Italian. The number of map sheets grew from 53 in 1570 to 167 in 1612, in the last edition.

In 1577, engraver Philip Galle and poet-translator Pieter Heyns published the first pocket-sized edition of the Theatrum, the Epitome. The work was very popular. Over thirty editions of this Epitome were published in different languages.


Giacomo Gastaldi (c. 1500 – 1566)

Giacomo Gastaldi was born in Villafranca, in Piedmont, to a wealthy family. Although he is considered one of the greatest cartographers of the sixteenth century, the events of his life and his professional training in the field of cartography are unknown to us until he arrives in Venice, where, in 1539, he obtained a perpetual printing privilege from the Venetian Senate.

One of the first Venetian contacts took place with the geographer and humanist Giovanni Battista Ramusio, with whom he collaborated. At the beginning of the 1540s, Gastaldi was already an established cartographer and began to work on a series of maps first published separately and then included in the Italian edition of Ptolemy's Geography of 1548, together with others made from scratch.

By the 1540s he had developed his own distinctive style of copper engraving for his increasingly prolific output of maps. His maps were used as a source by many mapmakers including Camocio, Bertelli, Forlani, Ramusio, Cock, Luchini and Ortelius.

With the support of his influential friendships, Gastaldi also obtained public positions: in 1549, the Council of Ten commissioned him to make a large map of Africa, for a wall from the armoury in the Doge's Palace and, again for the same room, one map of Asia and one of North America.

It is difficult to quantify the number of maps he produced; more than a hundred have been attributed to him.
Paolo Forlani collaborated for a long time with Gastaldi and published numerous counterfeits and not authorized editions.
Gastaldi died in Venice on 14 October 1566.