Rare Covens & Mortier's edition of Blaeu's map of China.
An important general map of China, Korea and Japan, published by Joan Blaeu in the Jesuit Martino Martini's Atlas Sinensis , the first western atlas of China.
The map incorporates the discoveries of Joao de Goma and de Vries into this map. Korea is no longer depicted as an island. Blaeu's map is also the first map to name and show Hokkaido (Ezo) as an island to the north of Honshu. China is mapped with considerable accuracy for the period: the Great Wall is shown.
Martini was the Jesuit Superior in Hangchow, giving him access to indigenous and Jesuit surveys of all the regions of China, which he brought back to Europe in 1654, for printing and publication.
The map was first issued by Blaeu, and then part of the plates acquired by Covens & Mortier at the end of the 17th century and re-issued with a new privilege by the Covens & Mortier firm. This edition is far scarcer on the market than the original Blaeu edition.
Johannes Covens (1697-1774) was a Dutch geographic publisher based in Amsterdam. He is best known for his collaboration with fellow publisher Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783). Pierre Mortier the Elder (1661-1711) had obtained a privilege in 1690 to distribute the works of French geographers in the Netherlands. After his widow continued the business for several years, Cornelis took over in 1719.
In 1721, Mortier forged a partnership with Covens, who had recently married Cornelis’ sister. They published under the joint name of Covens & Mortier. In 1774, upon the death of his father, Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) took over his father’s share. In 1778, the company changed its name to J. Covens & Zoon, or J. Covens & son.
Covens II’s son, Cornelis (1764-1825), later inherited the business and brought Petrus Mortier IV back into the fold. Petrus was the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I. From 1794, the business was called Mortier, Covens & Zoon, or Mortier, Covens, & Son.
The business specialized in publishing French geographers including Deslisle, Jaillot, and Sanson. They also published atlases, for example a 1725 reissue of Frederik de Wit’s Atlas Major and an atlas, with additions, from the works of Guillaume Delisle. There were also Covens & Mortier pocket atlases and town atlases. The company profited from acquiring plates from other geographers as well. For example, the purchased Pieter van der Aa’s plates in 1730. Finally, they also compiled a few maps in house. At their height, they had the largest collection of geographic prints ever assembled in Amsterdam.
Pierre, or Pieter, Mortier (1661-1711) was a Dutch engraver, son of a French refugee. He was born in Leiden. In 1690 he was granted a privilege to publish French maps in Dutch lands. In 1693 he released the first and accompanying volume of the Neptune Francois. The third followed in 1700. His son, Cornelis (1699-1783), would partner with Johannes Covens I, creating one of the most important map publishing companies of the eighteenth century.