Decorative example of Hondius's highly decorative map of Africa.
The map is richly embellished both inside and outside the map with a number of indigenous animals, seven sailing vessels, six flying fish, four sea monsters and, in the lower left, Neptune embraces a mermaid.
This remarkable map of Africa was originally offered in 1619 as a separately published map in a set of four continent maps by Jodocus Hondius Jr. (1593-1629). Jodocus drew his map from the earlier work of his father, Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612), who charted Africa in 1606 with a border of town views top and bottom and five pairs of Africans on either side.
In 1631, it was reissued by Jodocus's brother, Henricus Hondius (1597-1651), as part of his folio atlas without the large decorative border. The copperplates of the map continued to be held within the family and were used by Jodocus' brother-in-law, Johannes Janssonius (Jan Jansson), in his Atlas Novus published from 1646-1657. This is the fifth state of the map with Jansson's imprint at the bottom right and Latin text on the verso.
While the general geography for this map is taken from Willem Blaeu's wall map of 1608 and his 1617 folio map, this example represents a considerable advance in the detail and accuracy of Africa from Hondius' prior maps. Geographical improvements include a more rounded southern Cape, the naming of the Rio de Spiritu Santo and of the Cuama River , the insertion of Zimbaos and alteration in the shape of Madagascar. The Kingdom of Monomotapa fills the entire southern tip of Africa. However, the map is also filled with fictitious rivers and mountains and shows the origin of the Nile conforming to the Ptolemaic tradition of twin lakes located below the equator, as is typical of 17th Century cartography.
Henricus Hondius (1597-1651) was a Dutch engraver and mapmaker, a member of a prominent cartographic family. His father, Jodocus Hondius, was also an engraver and geographer. While working with his father, Henricus was instrumental in the expansion and republishing of Mercator’s atlas, first published in 1595 and republished by Hondius in 1606.
Upon his father’s death in 1612, Henricus and his brother, Jodocus the Younger, took over the business. He set up his own shop in 1621, where he continued to release new editions of the Mercator atlas. Later, he partnered with his brother-in-law, Jan Janssonius, in continuing to expand and publish Mercator’s atlas, which would become known as the Mercator-Hondius-Janssonius atlas. Born and based in Amsterdam, he died there in 1651.
Jan Janssonius (also known as Johann or Jan Jansson or Janszoon) (1588-1664) was a renowned geographer and publisher of the seventeenth century, when the Dutch dominated map publishing in Europe. Born in Arnhem, Jan was first exposed to the trade via his father, who was also a bookseller and publisher. In 1612, Jan married the daughter of Jodocus Hondius, who was also a prominent mapmaker and seller. Jonssonius’ first maps date from 1616.
In the 1630s, Janssonius worked with his brother-in-law, Henricus Hondius. Their most successful venture was to reissue the Mercator-Hondius atlas. Jodocus Hondius had acquired the plates to the Mercator atlas, first published in 1595, and added 36 additional maps. After Hondius died in 1612, Henricus took over publication; Janssonius joined the venture in 1633. Eventually, the atlas was renamed the Atlas Novus and then the Atlas Major, by which time it had expanded to eleven volumes. Janssonius is also well known for his volume of English county maps, published in 1646.
Janssonius died in Amsterdam in 1664. His son-in-law, Johannes van Waesbergen, took over his business. Eventually, many of Janssonius’ plates were sold to Gerard Valck and Pieter Schenk, who added their names and continued to reissue the maps.