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The first printed folio map of Japan to show the Maarten De Vries' discoveries in Hokkaido and the Kurile Islands.

This important map of Japan shows the three southern main islands, Honshu, Kyushu and Shikoku in a relatively advanced form, broadly familiar to the modern eye. Many cities and towns are labelled, including the capital city of Meako (Kyoto) and Iedo (Tokyo).

The revolutionary features of the map are the 'Landt van Eso' (the northern part of Hokkaido), which was then outside of the Japanese state and further north, 'Compagnies Land' named after the Dutch East India Company, is a somewhat fanciful rendering of the island of Iturup in the Kurile Islands. These areas would not be accurately charted until the 1787 visit of the French explorer Comte de La Perouse.

Korea, which was made 'off-limits' to foreigners by the ruling Joseon Dynasty, is little understood and is shown to be an island. The sole place name in Korea is 'Tauxem', located approximately at the modern day site of Pyongyang. The map is elegantly embellished with 2 decorative cartouches, 4 ships, 2 compass roses and a sea monster.

The genealogy of the map is very interesting. The basic template for the southern main islands was Abraham Ortelius' Iaponiae Insulae Descriptio, which was first printed in the 1595 edition of his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Ortleius, in turn, based the map on a manuscript sent to him in 1592 by Luís Teixeira, a Portuguese Jesuit who served as the official geographer to Spain's King Philip II.

In 1643, the Dutch adventurer Maarten Gerritsz de Vries (1589-1647), aboard his ship the Castricum, sailed around the waters of Honshu and Kyushu. However, by accident (driven by a storm), De Vries became the first European to visit Hokkaido, the Kurile Islands and Sakhalin.

Jansson acquired manuscript versions of De Vries's charts via his contacts with the Dutch East India Company (the VOC), and first published a small-sized version of the map as part of his Atlas Minor (1651). Jansson issued the first edition of the fine present folio-sized version of the map in 1658.

Jan Jansson (1588-1664) was a towering figure of the Golden Age of Dutch Cartography. He married the daughter of the tenement Amsterdam cartographer Jodocus Hondius and transformed the Hondius firm into a powerhouse of geographical publications. Jansson most notably published the Atlas Novus (1638) and the Atlas Major (1660), the 11 volumes of which included a town atlas, a hydrographic atlas, an atlas of the ancient world, and Andreas Cellarius's incomparable celestial atlas. Jansson's works were rivaled only by those of his arch-nemesis Joan Blaeu.

Jannson's map is one of the most important 17th Century map of Japan, and an essential element of any collection.

Jan Jansson Biography

Jan Janssonius (also known as Johann or Jan Jansson or Janszoon) (1588-1664) was a renowned geographer and publisher of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch dominated map publishing in Europe. Born in Arnhem, Jan was first exposed to the trade via his father, who was also a bookseller and publisher. In 1612, Jan married the daughter of Jodocus Hondius, who was also a prominent mapmaker and seller. Jonssonius’ first maps date from 1616.

In the 1630s, Janssonius worked with his brother-in-law, Henricus Hondius. Their most successful venture was to reissue the Mercator-Hondius atlas. Jodocus Hondius had acquired the plates to the Mercator atlas, first published in 1595, and added 36 additional maps. After Hondius died in 1612, Henricus took over publication; Janssonius joined the venture in 1633. Eventually, the atlas was renamed the Atlas Novus and then the Atlas Major, by which time it had expanded to eleven volumes. Janssonius is also well known for his volume of English county maps, published in 1646.

Janssonius died in Amsterdam in 1664. His son-in-law, Johannes van Waesbergen, took over his business. Eventually, many of Janssonius’ plates were sold to Gerard Valck and Pieter Schenk, who added their names and continued to reissue the maps.