Oblong quarto (265 x 275 mm.), 3 parts in one volume, full contemporary calf, spine gilt, raised spine with ornate gilt floral decorated compartments, with red calf gilt title label, light wear to lower edges. With half-title, engraved title with printed overslip, engraved frontispiece, 2 printed titles with woodcut vignettes, 42 engraved charts (40 folding, 2 full-page), numerous diagrams (two with volvelles) and coastal profiles in text, title, frontispiece and one or two charts shaved, some slight dampstaining.
A very good example of Jansson’s very rare first sea atlas in the first French edition, complete with the often missing half title. Willem Jansz. Blaeu (1571-1638) is one of the greatest Dutch cartographers of all time but it is little known that he began his production of atlases by publishing sea atlases. His first work was the ‘Het Licht der Zee-Vaert’ in 1608. ‘It is one of the most important Dutch pilot-guides rivalling and surpassing the ‘Thresoor der Zeevaaerdt’ of Lucas Waghenaer which was first published some sixteen years earlier and ceased with the issue of the ninth edition one year later in 1609′ (Wardington). ‘In the history of early Dutch pilot guides Blaeu’s work takes a very prominent place’ (Koeman). Blaeu was granted a privilege of ten years which expired in 1618. Two years later Jan Jansson (fl.c.1597-1629) published his own version entitled ‘Het Licht der Zee-Vaert’ for which the copper plates were engraved by Pieter van den Keere. Three editions, with text in Dutch, French or English, were published in 1620. Their priority is unclear. Some of the plates included revisions early on, these are noted by Koeman. A study of these shows that in this example some are in the early state, and others a revised one.
The charts are faithfully copied by Petrus Kaerius, 14 of which are composed of two sheets joined together. The three parts consist of the ‘Introduction’, an instruction in the art of navigation, the first Book dealing with the ‘Western navigation’ and the second Book dealing with the ‘Eastern and Northern navigation’. The fine engraved frontispiece bears a printed title for the French edition pasted on, the left-hand figure on the engraved title is reputed to be a portrait of William Blaeu. Provenance: with early manuscript ownership inscriptions on the title page of three different hands, the only legible one being ‘A. Charauel’; recent ex-libris of Jose Navarro-Ferre (1947-2007) author of ‘The Traveller of the Atlantic Islands’. Koeman IV 23J; Shirley (2004) M.Jan 1a; Skelton (1964b) Introduction to the facsimile edition of Blaeu’s ‘Light of Navigation’, 1612.