An old color--gold highlighted example of Blaeu's double hemisphere map of the world, prepared by Joan Blaeu for his 11 volume Atlas Maior in 1662. Unlike its predecessor which employed the Mercator projection, Blaeu utilizes a double hemisphere format and depicts California as an island. This double hemisphere world map is much rarer than its predecessor. The engraving and layout and elegance of decoration are all of the highest standard. The map depicts celestial figures seated among the clouds and representations of the four season below, with each figure seated in a chariot drawn by beasts and birds. This example comes from what must have been an extraordinary example of the Spanish edition of Blaeu's Major, issued in 1666. The map is richly colored and includes gold leaf highlighting throughout the map. The map has been restored and de-acidified and shows the adverse effects of the coloring of the period, but has been stabilized and archivally backed, and still retains much of its orginal beauty. The map is now quite scarce and when offered in orginal color (without the gold highlights) and would normally be a $25,000 map, even without the gold. Shirley 428.
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.