Striking example of the rare Moses Pitt edition of this important map of Lithuania at its grandest scale (incuding Poland, Ukraine and part of Russia), including a large inset of the Dniepr River, based upon Hessel Gerritsz's four sheet map of the same title.
Hessel Gerritsz prepared his original map from manuscript drafts prepared under the instructions of Prince Nicolas Christophe Radziwill. His four sheet map was first issued in 1613 by Willem Blaeu, under Blaeu's original imprint, Guilhelmus Janssonis. This is one of the earliest maps published by Blaeu, who did not incorporate this map into an atlas until approximately 1630.
The Radziwill map is one of the most important works of European cartography from the end of the 16th and the beginning of the 17th century and is an important contribution to the progress in the mapping of the whole continent. The map had its beginning in 1586 when Prince Michael Radziwill commissioned M.Strubicz to survey the entire Lithuanian state which then included Poland. Strubicz's map was so accurate and detailed that it provided the basis for all subsequent maps of the area during the 17th and 18th centuries. In addition to the usual topographical details, there is considerable historical information also provided.
The map includes the Lithuanian coat of arms, title cartouche, sailing ship and vignettes within the image. Buczek remarks that
the map ... occupies a very prominent position among ... European cartography ... and ... was also a great step forward in the mapping of the lands then forming part of Poland ... there are on the map 1020 towns and villages and within the boundaries of the Grand Dutchy of Lithuania alone there are 511 towns, 31 villages, and 1 monastery.
Following Blaeu's original 4-sheet version of the Gerritsz map, Blaeu and Jansson issued single sheet versions, the latter of which was re-issued by Valk & Schenk and Moses Pitt, at the end of the 17th Century.
Pitt was from Cornwall, where he was baptized at St. Teath in 1639. He was educated locally but moved to London when apprenticed to bookseller Robert Littlebury. At the end of his apprenticeship, in 1661, he was made free of the Haberdasher’s Company. His first books to be published with his own imprint appeared in 1667.
Pitt specialized in learned publications and imported scholarly works from continental Europe. He also published the writings of members of the newly formed Royal Society, including Robert Boyle, as well as high-ranking clergymen. In 1678, Pitt was the first bookseller to offer his wares via an auction.
Thanks in part to his ties to the Royal Society, Pitt announced in 1678 that he would publish a massive twelve-volume atlas of the world. The plates were to be based on Dutch maps, with a text written by Bishop William Nicholson and Richard Peers. However, only four volumes ever appeared.
Pitt, who was also managing several properties in Westminster and had expanded in a partnership to Oxford, was spread too thin. The cost of each volume of the atlas alone Pitt estimated at £1,000. One by one, his ventures turned foul, landing him in debtors’ prison for seven years. He died in London, but not in prison, in 1697.