Decorative example of Hondius' map of China and Southeast Asia, from Mercator-Hondius Atlas Sive Cosmographia.
One of the finest early Dutch maps of the region, first published in 1606 as one of the 37 new maps engraved for Jodocus Hondius' expanded Dutch edition of the Mercator Atlas. Extending from India to the coasts of Southern China with the Pearl River Estuary, Canton, and Formosa, it also includes all of the Malay peninsula and Indochina, northern Borneo and the Philippines.
The decorative detail includes a large sea monster and an oriental junk in the Bay of Bengal as well as fine scrollwork title and scale cartouches. One of the most interesting and unusual features of the Southern Malay peninsula is its dissection in two, the southern part becoming an island just south of Malacca where it is separated from the rest of the peninsula by a large northeasterly channel.
Jodocus Hondius the Elder (1563-1612), or Joost de Hondt, was one of the most prominent geographers and engravers of his time. His work did much to establish Amsterdam as the center of cartographic publishing in the seventeenth century. Born in Wakken but raised in Ghent, the young Jodocus worked as an engraver, instrument maker, and globe maker.
Hondius moved to London in 1584, fleeing religious persecution in Flanders. There, he worked for Richard Hakluyt and Edward Wright, among others. Hondius also engraved the globe gores for Emery Molyneux’s pair of globes in 1592; Wright plotted the coastlines. His engraving and nautical painting skills introduced him to an elite group of geographic knowledge seekers and producers, including the navigators Drake, Thomas Cavendish, and Walter Raleigh, as well as engravers like Theodor De Bry and Augustine Ryther. This network gave Hondius access to manuscript charts and descriptions which he then translated into engraved maps.
In 1593 Hondius returned to Amsterdam, where he lived for the rest of his life. Hondius worked in partnership with Cornelis Claesz, a publisher, and maintained his ties to contacts in Europe and England. For example, from 1605 to 1610, Hondius engraved the plates for John Speed’s Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine.
One of Hondius’ most successful commercial ventures was the reprinting of Mercator’s atlas. When he acquired the Mercator plates, he added 36 maps, many engraved by him, and released the atlas under Mercator’s name, helping to solidify Mercator’s reputation posthumously. Hondius died in 1612, at only 48 years of age, after which time his son of the same name and another son, Henricus, took over the business, including the reissuing of the Mercator atlas. After 1633, Hondius the Elder’s son-in-law, Johannes Janssonius, was also listed as a co-publisher for the atlas.