Willem Blaeu established the firm in 1599 as instrument and globe makers. His first topographical atlas appeared in 1630 in one volume and was gradually expanded. By 1640 the ‘Novus Atlas’ by his Joan Blaeu (1598-1673) was in three volumes and contained just 4 British Isles maps. His chief rival, the Hondius-Jansson atlas contained 18 maps. Both joined a race to make their fourth volumes a complete atlas of the British Isles. Blaeu was first, publishing his magnificent work in 1645, one year before that of Jansson’s. The work of Blaeu set a standard of design, beauty and quality that arguably has never been surpassed. He went on to produce some of the highest quality atlases ever published. This map of Staffordshire bears attractive coats of arms and two ornate cartouches in the lower corners. This is an early example from 1648 with German text. Koeman Bl47D; King 11; Skelton 28 & 44; Van der Krogt, P. (Atlantes) 5350:2.