Attractive map of Southern Africa, shortly before the first Dutch settlement in the region.
The area shown is from the Congo River basin around the Cape of Good Hope and up the east coast as far as northern present-day Mozambique. Many coastal names shown, including Mozambique Island, which was an important stop over for ships sailing to India and points east. To the north, one of the Ptolemaic lakes thought to be the source of the Nile is shown. Information on the interior is sparse, reflecting the lack of knowledge the Europeans had about the interior of Africa.
This map can be distinguished from Blaeu's map of the same title by lack of the sailing ship to the west of Madagascar along the equator, which is present on the Blaeu.
The present example is a late issue of the map, without text on the verso.
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.