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Stock# 57383

First State of Blaeu's Carte-a-Figures Map of Europe

Blaeu's map of Europe is a reduced version of Blaeu's wall map of Europe, first published in 1617.  The map shows 9 major European Cities across the top and 10 sets of indigenous costumes along the sides.

The body of the map is richly embellished sailing ships, sea monsters, animals and other curiosa.

The upper frieze has nine bird’s-eye views of Amsterdam, Prague, Constantinople, Venice, Rome, Paris, London, Toledo and Lisbon. The side borders contain the costumes of the noblemen and women of ten European nations: English, French, Dutch, Castilian Spanish, Venetians, Germans, Hungarians, Bohemians, Polish, and Ottoman Greeks. The map is embellished with sailing ships, sea monsters, bears in northern Russia, and lions in North Africa and Neptune riding a dolphin and holding his trident. A beautiful map produced at the height of the Golden Age of Dutch mapmaking.

For European mapmakers their own continent contained few mysteries or secrets by the seventeenth century. However, the mythical island of Frishland still appears between Iceland and Greenland.

The first state of Blaeu's map was issued separately and published in 1617, in a set of 4 maps of the continents.  The primary difference between the present map and later states of the map are the dating of this map in the title (1617) and the spelling of Blaeu's name (Guiliel: Ianssonio).  In later states, Blaeu would use Guilielo Blaeuw.  There is no text on the verso.

Issued separately, the map was would later appear in atlas form in the 1631 edition of Blaeu's Atlantis Appendix, and in the 1635 and later editions of the Theatrum, by which time Blaeu had changed his name and removed the date.


The first state of Blaeu's map of Europe is exceedingly rare on the market.  We note a single uncolored example offered by Sothebys, April 29, 2014 (Lot 68 - Sold for 5,000 GBP ($8,414)).

Schilder MCN VI, 26.1: dated 1617
Willem Janszoon Blaeu Biography

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) was a prominent Dutch geographer and publisher. Born the son of a herring merchant, Blaeu chose not fish but mathematics and astronomy for his focus. He studied with the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, with whom he honed his instrument and globe making skills. Blaeu set up shop in Amsterdam, where he sold instruments and globes, published maps, and edited the works of intellectuals like Descartes and Hugo Grotius. In 1635, he released his atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas novus.

Willem died in 1638. He had two sons, Cornelis (1610-1648) and Joan (1596-1673). Joan trained as a lawyer, but joined his father’s business rather than practice. After his father’s death, the brothers took over their father’s shop and Joan took on his work as hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company. Later in life, Joan would modify and greatly expand his father’s Atlas novus, eventually releasing his masterpiece, the Atlas maior, between 1662 and 1672.