Fascinating example of a rare John Overton "forgery" of Abraham Ortelius' map of the ancient regions ofPannoniae and Illyrici, which was separately published by Overton in about 1677.
This is one of a small group of maps , including the British Isles, Iberia, France, Italy, Germany and the Ancient Empire of Alexander the Great, are piracies, entirely re-engraved by John Overton. With these 'pseudo-Ortelius' maps, Overton sought to ride on the Ortelius' incomparable century-old brand. John Overton's Catalogue for the Easter Term of 1677, licensed May 28th The Catalogue includes
A Collection of Mapps of the antient Geography, made by the best and most approved Geographers. Each Mapp in a large Imperial Sheet of Paper, viz. Europe, Asia, Africa, Germany, Spain, France, Italy, Greece, Roman Empire, Alexander's Expeditions, S. Pauls's Travels, Egypt, etc ...sold by John Overton at the White Horse, without Newgate."
Overton's pseudo-Ortelius maps are extreme rarities. We first learned of their existence when we discovered a group of six such maps in a composite atlas by Overton, which in now in the collection of the British Library (sold by this firm to the British Library in 2013). At the time, we located a small group of these maps at the Bodleian Library. The British Library has since also located 2 examples of these Overton / Ortelius forgeries in the King's Collection and we are aware of one such map bound into the famous Custis Atlas, now in the collection of Colonial Williamsburg (the map of Celtic Europe).
The present example, purchased at auction in August 2016, is the first example of the map we have ever seen on the market, other than the aforementioned Overton Atlas. This is apparently the only surviving example of this map, as it was not in the Overton atlas or the Bodleian collection.
Abraham Ortelius is perhaps the best known and most frequently collected of all sixteenth-century mapmakers. Ortelius started his career as a map engraver. In 1547 he entered the Antwerp guild of St Luke as afsetter van Karten. His early career was as a business man, and most of his journeys before 1560 were for commercial purposes. In 1560, while traveling with Gerard Mercator to Trier, Lorraine, and Poitiers, he seems to have been attracted, largely by Mercator’s influence, towards a career as a scientific geographer. From that point forward, he devoted himself to the compilation his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), which would become the first modern atlas.
In 1564 he completed his “mappemonde", an eight-sheet map of the world. The only extant copy of this great map is in the library of the University of Basle. Ortelius also published a map of Egypt in 1565, a plan of Brittenburg Castle on the coast of the Netherlands, and a map of Asia, prior to 1570.
On May 20, 1570, Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum first appeared in an edition of 53 maps. By the time of his death in 1598, a total of 25 editions were published including editions in Latin, Italian, German, French, and Dutch. Later editions would also be issued in Spanish and English by Ortelius’ successors, Vrients and Plantin, the former adding a number of maps to the atlas, the final edition of which was issued in 1612. Most of the maps in Ortelius Theatrum were drawn from the works of a number of other mapmakers from around the world; a list of 87 authors is given by Ortelius himself
In 1573, Ortelius published seventeen supplementary maps under the title of Additamentum Theatri Orbis Terrarum. In 1575 he was appointed geographer to the king of Spain, Philip II, on the recommendation of Arias Montanus, who vouched for his orthodoxy (his family, as early as 1535, had fallen under suspicion of Protestantism). In 1578 he laid the basis of a critical treatment of ancient geography with his Synonymia geographica (issued by the Plantin press at Antwerp and republished as Thesaurus geographicus in 1596). In 1584 he issued his Nomenclator Ptolemaicus, a Parergon (a series of maps illustrating ancient history, sacred and secular.) Late in life, he also aided Welser in his edition of the Peutinger Table in 1598.