Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

The first modern atlas by Abraham Ortelius entitled ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ first published in Antwerp, 1570, enjoyed enormous success. It was republished no less than four times in the first year alone. A friend of Ortelius’ named Philip Galle was an engraver and is believed to have been the person who first conceived the idea of a smaller version of the atlas. Another friend Pieter Heyns had translated the folio atlas into Dutch for the 1571 edition. Both Ortelius and Heyns fled the religious troubles threatening Antwerp in the 1570s and whilst Ortelius went to London in November 1576, Heyns returned to Antwerp in 1577 in a destitute way. Galle along with the publisher Christopher Plantin decided to publish the reduced Ortelius atlas to support Heyns financially. Heyns provided the Dutch text in verse. This is evoked in the first edition which was entitled ‘Spieghel der Werelt’ where it also alludes to the fact that Ortelius was unaware of the atlas but they were sure that he would approve. Koeman theorises that the engravings must have been ready earlier as Ortelius must have had some input, it being almost impossible for Galle to reduce the 70 folio maps in less than a year without the help of Ortelius. There is strong evidence that 1574 would have marked the beginning of the project as of the SIX LARGER FORMAT MAPS in the atlas one, the world map, is dated 1574. It might be argued that these formed the size of the intended work and that the religious and financial troubles encouraged a resulting reduced sized format.

The first edition was an immediate success and was followed in 1579 by this the first French edition of this pocket-size atlas which is more widely referred to as the ‘Epitome’. They are the only two issues before the atlas was expanded. However the ‘Privilege’ provided on the final leaf is dated 1577 indicating a possible earlier French edition although no example has ever been recorded. It is possible that though granted probably late in that year it would be a further year or more before the text was prepared in the then troubled times. The six larger plates which are engraved to a higher standard are of the world, Europe, France, Germany, the Low Countries and Italy. They were replaced in 1588 by smaller maps similar in size to the rest of the atlas. Any edition with the larger plates present is highly sought after. Above each map in the atlas is a typographic title with a number which relates to the equivalent map in the folio ‘Theatrum’. Koeman (1967-70) Ort 48; Van der Krogt (1997-2003) 331:11; Nordenskiold (1979) no. 166; Phillips (1909-) 385; Shirley (1984) 132; Shirley (2004) T.Ort 2a.


Le Miroir du Monde, reduict premièrement en rithme brabanconne par M.P. Heyns. Et maintenant tourné en prose françoise: auquel se represent clairement & au vif, tant par figures que charactères, la vraye situation, nature & propriété de la terre universelle

Christopher Plantin for Philippe Galle, Antwerp, 1579
Oblong octavo (150 x 195 mm), old limp vellum binding, recent endpapers and ties. Typographic title page with woodcut printer’s device, engraved allegorical text illustration and 72 engraved maps (6 folding) by Philippe Galle, folding maps torn along folds without loss, tears in the corners of 2 maps, some dampstaining in the margins (heavier from signature E to the end), otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 7570


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