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

The Mapping of North America

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

A fine example of Abraham Ortelius’ map displaying the west coast of America. Engraved by Frans Hogenberg, it was first published in the first edition of the ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, 1570. This is the earliest available maps to name ‘California’ which first appeared on the Diego Gutierrez wall map of 1562 which survives in just two known examples.

‘Unlike his map of America, this derives its cartography from Ortelius’ own large world map of 1564. This is a very early depiction of the northern Pacific. Its main feature is the STRETTO DI ANIAN. This increased the public awareness of the 1561 Giacomo Gastaldi theory of a strait between the continents of Asia and America. At its southern entrance an enlarged Japan dominates, below which a note states that a large amount of the information in Asia emanates from the writings of Marco Polo. The west coast of North America differs from his map of America in that the peninsula is broader, some different names appear, and others are lacking’ (Burden).

Ortelius’ ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’ was an instant success, and four versions of the first edition were published in 1570. ‘When it appeared, it was the most expensive book ever printed’ (Broecke). Ortelius (1527-98) developed an interest in cartography, geography, and history at an early age. He began as a ‘kaarten afzetter’ (or illuminator of maps) and would purchase single maps from booksellers and colour them for re-sale, mounted on linen suitable for wall-hanging. At twenty he was entered in the Guild of St Luke at Antwerp. Ortelius travelled extensively in Europe, and maintained regular correspondence with mapmakers, historians, and scientists, acquiring information, which was to form his greatest opus, the ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’. What made the atlas stand out as the first modern atlas was its uniformity. They were produced in a similar style and none of the ancient Ptolemaic maps were included. The atlas was accompanied a catalogue of the authors whose source Ortelius had drawn upon in compiling the work. Without this list many cartographers of the day would remain unknown to us today. Burden (1996) 41; Karrow (1993) pp. 1-28; Koeman (1967) vol. 3, p. 25; Shirley (2004) T.ORT-1.


Tartariae Sive Magni Chami Regni

Antwerp, 1570-[89]
350 x 470 mm. Fine uncoloured example.
Stock number: 6633


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