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World by Abraham Ortelius. 1579

Van den Broecke: "As the first world map occurring in the first regular atlas, this map is of fundamental importance in the history of cartography".

From the surviving correspondence, it is known that Mercator generously encouraged Ortelius to make use of his published corpus of research; he also provided him with coordinates of places in America and perhaps elsewhere. South America retains the unusual bulged southwest coast drawn by Mercator. There is also a prudent comment adjacent to New Guinea querying whether this large island is part of the southern continent or not.


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. In addition, he travelled a lot and visited Italy and France, made contacts everywhere with scholars and editors, and maintained 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 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 ten 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.

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Typus Orbis Terrarum.

€9000  ($9630 / £7650)
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Item Number:  28640
Category:  Antique maps > World and Polar
References: Van der Krogt 3 - 0001:31A; Van den Broecke - #1.1; Clancy - p. 67 Map 5.9; Shirley (World) - #122 State 1; Karrow - 1/9; Meurer (Ortelius) - #1

Old, antique world map by Abraham Ortelius.

Title: Typus Orbis Terrarum.
Franciscus Hogenbergus sculpsit.
Cum privilegio.
Quid ei Potest Videri Magnum in Rebus Humanis, cui Aeternitas omnis, totiusque Mundi Nota sit Magnitudo, Cicero

Cartographer: .G. Mercator / Gastaldi / A. Ortelius.
Engraver: Frans Hogenberg.

Date of the first edition: 1570.
Date of this map: 1579.

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Map size: 340 x 495mm (13.39 x 19.49 inches).
Sheet size: 410 x 555mm (16.14 x 21.85 inches).
Verso: Latin text.
Condition: Original coloured, centrefold restored.
Condition Rating: A.
References: Van der Krogt 3 - 0001:31A; Van den Broecke - #1.1; Clancy - p.67 Map 5.9; Shirley (World) - #122 State 1; Karrow - 1/6; Meurer (Ortelius) - #1

From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp, Chr. Plantin, 1579. (Van der Krogt 3, 31:021)

Van den Broecke: "As the first world map occurring in the first regular atlas, this map is of fundamental importance in the history of cartography".

From the surviving correspondence, it is known that Mercator generously encouraged Ortelius to make use of his published corpus of research; he also provided him with coordinates of places in America and perhaps elsewhere. South America retains the unusual bulged southwest coast drawn by Mercator. There is also a prudent comment adjacent to New Guinea querying whether this large island is part of the southern continent or not.


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. In addition, he travelled a lot and visited Italy and France, made contacts everywhere with scholars and editors, and maintained 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 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 ten 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.

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