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Claes Jansz Visscher's rare world map on Mercator's Projection - Carte à figures - 1652

In 1637 Claes Jansz Visscher published a map of the world on Mercator's projection, which in layout is similar to the maps published earlier by Blaeu and Van den Keere. The title in capitals runs along the top edge of the map image. The two polar hemispheres are placed in the bottom corners of a large hypothetical Southland which is interrupted in the area of the most southern portion of South America and near New guinea. Visscher's imprint is to the left of the southern hemisphere.

The interior of North America is occupied by a large oval cartouche containing twelve lines of Latin text about the discovery of America. The legend refers to the discoveries by Columbus and Vespucci (erroneously dated 1592 and 1599) and to the travels by Drake, Cavendish, Van Noort, Sebald de Weert, Joris van Spilbergen and Jacob le Maire. In the northeast, Davis Strait passes into a large frozen sea (Mare Congelatum) which is linked to Hudson Bay. Here a legend refers to Henry Hudson, but toponyms also relate to other English explorations, such as the one undertaken by Thomas Button. The course of the St. Lawrence River is extended far to the west. Surprisingly, the engraver did not go to the trouble of enlarging the coasts of Spitsbergen using more recent Dutch knowledge.

The map is framed by four magnificently decorated borders. Allegorical figures of the four continents appear in the four corners. In the top and bottom borders are twelve Roman emperors on horseback. In the side borders, town views of Rome, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Tunis, Mexico, Havana, Pernambuco in Brazil, and San Salvador, alternated with costumed figures.

According to Shirley, the engraver could be Pieter Goos who engraved the companion hemispherical world map a year earlier. The same error, attributing the discovery of America to the years 1592/1599, is repeated.


The Visscher Family

For nearly a century, the members of the Visscher family were important art dealers and map publishers in Amsterdam.

Claes Jansz. Visscher, or N.J. Piscator (1587-1652)

Claes Jansz. Vischer bought a house in Amsterdam, 'de gulden Bors', on the important Kalverstraat and changed the name into "In de Visscher" and it was under this title that the shop was to flourish for many years.
He was famous for his engravings and etchings of Dutch landscape and of 'historical scenes', such as sieges, battles, etc. These 'historical scenes' were considered as contemporary illustrated news items, especially, e.g., that of 'the Eighty Years' War'.
For the publication of his first atlas, he bought copperplates of the atlas Germania Inferior by Pieter van den Keere (1623).
In 1649, he published an atlas entitled Tabularum Geographicarum Contractarum, containing the same maps as Langenes' Caert Thresoor, for which Visscher had only new title-pages engraved.
Claes Jansz. Visscher died in 1652. His wife, Neeltjen Florisdr., had already died in 1640. They had seven children, four of whom were still alive at Claes Jansz.'s death. One of them was Nicolaes Visscher I, who was to continue his father's business.

Nicolaes Visscher I (1618-1679)

Nicolaes Visscher I entered into partnership with his father and continued the busines and stayed on the Kalverstraat 'in de Visscher' till his death.
About 1657, the first edition appeared of his Atlas Contractus Orbis Terrarum.
Between 1664 and 1677, several editions of his Atlas Contractus appeared without a printed index, for these atlases had no fixed contents, but were composed according to the buyer's financial leaping-pole.
In May 1664, Nicolaes Visscher was admitted as a member of the Booksellers' Guild of his town. In July 1677, he was granted a patent of the States of Holland and West-Friesland for the printing and publishing of maps and atlases for a period of 15 years.
After this, he again published an Atlas Contractus, this time with a printed index. At about the same time, he also brought out an Atlas Minor.

Nicolaes Visscher II (1649-1702)

Nicolaes Visscher II inherited the 'shop' from his father. To obtain a new privilegio he applied to the States of Holland and West-Friesland in 1682, for a patent for printing and publishing maps. This patent was granted to him the same year. He moved the firm to the Dam, but it kept the same sign-board: "In de Visscher".
Around 1683, he published his first Atlas Minor with a printed index of 91 maps. In 1684, an atlas Germania Inferior appeared. Till 1697 he published another number of atlases. He used his grandfather's (Claes Jansz.) maps less often now and relied more and more on his own.
The wars waged in this time initiated the compilation of maps of the countries where the armies were operating. Many maps of war were included in the various editions of his Atlas Minor.
After Nicolaes' death, his wife, Elizabeth Verseyl, published all the maps of war in the form of an atlas under the title: De Stoel des Oorlogs in de Wereld (The seat of war in the world).

The widow of Nicolaes Visscher II (?-1726)

His widow continued the business energetically, and by her hand, under the name of her deceased husband, numerous atlases appeared, e.g., several editions of the Atlas Minor, an Atlas Maior and De Stoel des Oorlogs. The shop enjoyed a high reputation owing to the great variety of the assortment. Not only 'Visscher' maps, but also maps of other publishers were obtainable. With the death of Elizabeth Verseyl, in 1726, the last descendant died of a great map- and atlas-publishing firm in Amsterdam.

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Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula.

€13800  ($16422 / £12282)
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Item Number:  27701  new
Category:  Antique maps > World and Polar
References: Shirley (World) - #350; Schilder 6 - 8.7; Wagner - #370; Clancy - p. 74 map 6.1

Old, antique world map on Mercator's projection, by Claes Jansz Visscher.

Date of the first edition: 1637
Date of this map: 1652
Seventh state.

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Size (not including margins): 45 x 56.5cm (17.6 x 21.9 inches)
Verso: Blank
Condition: Hand coloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A+
References: Shirley (World), #350; Schilder 6, 8.7; Wagner, #370; Clancy, p. 74 Map 6.1

Separate publication.

In 1637 Claes Jansz Visscher published a map of the world on Mercator's projection, which in layout is similar to the maps published earlier by Blaeu and Van den Keere. The title in capitals runs along the top edge of the map image. The two polar hemispheres are placed in the bottom corners of a large hypothetical Southland which is interrupted in the area of the most southern portion of South America and near New guinea. Visscher's imprint is to the left of the southern hemisphere.

The interior of North America is occupied by a large oval cartouche containing twelve lines of Latin text about the discovery of America. The legend refers to the discoveries by Columbus and Vespucci (erroneously dated 1592 and 1599) and to the travels by Drake, Cavendish, Van Noort, Sebald de Weert, Joris van Spilbergen and Jacob le Maire. In the northeast, Davis Strait passes into a large frozen sea (Mare Congelatum) which is linked to Hudson Bay. Here a legend refers to Henry Hudson, but toponyms also relate to other English explorations, such as the one undertaken by Thomas Button. The course of the St. Lawrence River is extended far to the west. Surprisingly, the engraver did not go to the trouble of enlarging the coasts of Spitsbergen using more recent Dutch knowledge.

The map is framed by four magnificently decorated borders. Allegorical figures of the four continents appear in the four corners. In the top and bottom borders are twelve Roman emperors on horseback. In the side borders, town views of Rome, Amsterdam, Jerusalem, Tunis, Mexico, Havana, Pernambuco in Brazil, and San Salvador, alternated with costumed figures.

According to Shirley, the engraver could be Pieter Goos who engraved the companion hemispherical world map a year earlier. The same error, attributing the discovery of America to the years 1592/1599, is repeated.


The Visscher Family

For nearly a century, the members of the Visscher family were important art dealers and map publishers in Amsterdam.

Claes Jansz. Visscher, or N.J. Piscator (1587-1652)

Claes Jansz. Vischer bought a house in Amsterdam, 'de gulden Bors', on the important Kalverstraat and changed the name into "In de Visscher" and it was under this title that the shop was to flourish for many years.
He was famous for his engravings and etchings of Dutch landscape and of 'historical scenes', such as sieges, battles, etc. These 'historical scenes' were considered as contemporary illustrated news items, especially, e.g., that of 'the Eighty Years' War'.
For the publication of his first atlas, he bought copperplates of the atlas Germania Inferior by Pieter van den Keere (1623).
In 1649, he published an atlas entitled Tabularum Geographicarum Contractarum, containing the same maps as Langenes' Caert Thresoor, for which Visscher had only new title-pages engraved.
Claes Jansz. Visscher died in 1652. His wife, Neeltjen Florisdr., had already died in 1640. They had seven children, four of whom were still alive at Claes Jansz.'s death. One of them was Nicolaes Visscher I, who was to continue his father's business.

Nicolaes Visscher I (1618-1679)

Nicolaes Visscher I entered into partnership with his father and continued the busines and stayed on the Kalverstraat 'in de Visscher' till his death.
About 1657, the first edition appeared of his Atlas Contractus Orbis Terrarum.
Between 1664 and 1677, several editions of his Atlas Contractus appeared without a printed index, for these atlases had no fixed contents, but were composed according to the buyer's financial leaping-pole.
In May 1664, Nicolaes Visscher was admitted as a member of the Booksellers' Guild of his town. In July 1677, he was granted a patent of the States of Holland and West-Friesland for the printing and publishing of maps and atlases for a period of 15 years.
After this, he again published an Atlas Contractus, this time with a printed index. At about the same time, he also brought out an Atlas Minor.

Nicolaes Visscher II (1649-1702)

Nicolaes Visscher II inherited the 'shop' from his father. To obtain a new privilegio he applied to the States of Holland and West-Friesland in 1682, for a patent for printing and publishing maps. This patent was granted to him the same year. He moved the firm to the Dam, but it kept the same sign-board: "In de Visscher".
Around 1683, he published his first Atlas Minor with a printed index of 91 maps. In 1684, an atlas Germania Inferior appeared. Till 1697 he published another number of atlases. He used his grandfather's (Claes Jansz.) maps less often now and relied more and more on his own.
The wars waged in this time initiated the compilation of maps of the countries where the armies were operating. Many maps of war were included in the various editions of his Atlas Minor.
After Nicolaes' death, his wife, Elizabeth Verseyl, published all the maps of war in the form of an atlas under the title: De Stoel des Oorlogs in de Wereld (The seat of war in the world).

The widow of Nicolaes Visscher II (?-1726)

His widow continued the business energetically, and by her hand, under the name of her deceased husband, numerous atlases appeared, e.g., several editions of the Atlas Minor, an Atlas Maior and De Stoel des Oorlogs. The shop enjoyed a high reputation owing to the great variety of the assortment. Not only 'Visscher' maps, but also maps of other publishers were obtainable. With the death of Elizabeth Verseyl, in 1726, the last descendant died of a great map- and atlas-publishing firm in Amsterdam.