Blaeu's First Atlas of the World
Blaeu, Willem Janszoon
Date of Creation:
Blaeu’s first world atlas, produced from plates acquired from Jodocus Hondius II, a family member of the rival firm of Jaonnes Janssonius and Henricus Hondius.
First published the previous year in 1630, this is the second issue of the 1631 edition, with figures removed from the border of the map of the British Isles.
Including Blaeu’s world map on Mercator’s projection first issued separately by him in 1606, reduced from his large world map of 1605, and which remained in circulation in this form in his atlases for more than fifty years. It was first issued in atlas form for Blaeu’s 'Appendix', engraved for him by Josua van den Ende. The magnificent border is decorated with allegorical representations of the sun and moon and the five known planets: Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn. The left-hand border contains four vignettes of the four elements: Fire, Air, Water and Earth. The right-hand border contains vignettes of the four seasons. Along the bottom edge are vignettes of the seven wonders of the world: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus of Rhodes, the Pyramids, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus at Caria, the Temple of Diana, the statue of Jupiter, and the lighthouse at Alexandria. It wasn’t until 1662 that Willem Blaeu’s son Joannes issued a new world map on a double-hemisphere projection for insertion in the 'Atlas Maior'.
Blaeu has also included a number of maps of the America’s including 'Americae Nova Tabula', a quintessentially european view of the New World. The coastal outlines generally follow Ortelius and Wytfliet with nomenclature from a variety of explorers and colonists. The decorative borders on either side include vignettes of portraits of the native inhabitants, after John White (Virginia), Hans Staden (Brazil) and other early explorer's accounts. Across the top are nine town plans including Havana, St. Domingo, Cartegena, Mexico City, Cusco, Potosi, I. la Mocha in Chile, Rio de Janeiro and Olinda in Brazil. The map itself is based on Blaeu's wall map of 1608 with the addition of Henry Hudson’s discoveries in North America, Tierra del Fuego as and island and the Le Maire Strait. This is the third state of the plate with the imprint changed to Auct: Guiljelmo Blaeuw and Latin text on verso.