A Legendary Rarity of Great Beauty and Importance
Decorative double hemisphere map of the World Johannes Baptista Vrients, the second earliest printed map of the world to include allegorical vignettes around the two hemispheres.
This striking map of the world engraved by the Dutch master engravers Arnold and Hendrik Van Langren, for the first edition of Linschoten's Itinerario, Voyage ofte Schipvaert van J.H. van Linschoten, published in 1596. Vrients map holds the distinction of being the second printed world map (after Plancius' World Map of 1594) to use a style of richly decorated borders that would become the standard for world maps for over 100 years. The elaborate borders were inspired Plancius' map, which in turn were based upon drawings in the works of Theodore de Bry published a few years earlier and established a pattern of cartographical decoration that lasted over a century. The map was first issued separately and later appeared in Linschoten's Itinerario.
Based largely on Plancius' separately published map of 1594 (which would be included in later editions of Linschoten's Itinerario), the map has great importance geographically, particularly in the mapping of the Arctic and the Far East. The map contains a marvelous attempt at a North-West Passage. Plancius himself instigated the three voyages of Willem Barents (1594-1597) into the area. He used his map to give cartographic encouragement to the Dutch crews by turning Novaya Zemlya into an island with open sea between it and the Arctic. A sprinkling of English names in the Canadian Arctic appear as a result of Frobisher and Davis's explorations in search of the passage in 1576-1587.
The map is also a landmark in the mapping of Asia and Japan. Plancius was one of the first Europeans able to penetrate the wall of secrecy surrounding the manuscript portolan maps produced by Spain & Portugal. Some of the most significant improvements include the first incorporation of Teixiera's outline for Japan.
For this map, Vrients has changed the title of the map and reworked the decorative vignettes, although the cartographic features remain largely unchanged. A strong case can be made that the Vrients map is the better engraved of the two maps and is certainly much rarer than Plancius' 1594 map. Ironically, while the Plancius map was printed 2 years earlier, virtually all surviving examples of Plancius' map are from later editions of Linschoten and therefore post-date Vrient's map.
The map is much rarer than Plancius' world map and rarely appears on the market.