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Description

Abraham Ortelius's First Map and the Basis for De Jode's Cordiform World Map. Here Reproduced for Edward Luther Stevenson's Collection of Early World Map Facsimiles.

Attractive early sepia-tone photographic facsimile of Abraham Ortelius's cordiform world map, his first cartographic production. 

Shirley (114) provides the following commentary of Ortelius's wall map:

This magnificent eight-sheet world map is not nearly as well-known as it deserves to be. It is the first cartographical production of Abraham Ortelius, by then aged 37 and an established map salesman in Antwerp along with his older rival Gerard de Jade whose publication imprint appears on the map. The copper engraving is of a high standard and indicative of the new school of map making in the Low Countries that was to surpass the Italians over the next 150 years.

Ortelius' map is on a cordiform projection which 1s cut off at the bottom where a large austral continent is depicted. There is a border of clouds and twelve interesting windheads - cherubs, old men, and monkeys - sporting a variety of headgear. The names of the winds are printed in Latin, Italian and Dutch. In the lower left-hand comer is a panel of text describing the sources of gold, silver, ~precious stones and spices; to the right are two large birds-eye views of Cusco and Mexico City. Some of the details on the map - cannibals in South America, rhinoceroses in Africa and India, a camel train in Tartary - hark back to Waldseemiiller. Ortelius has added a number of fully-rigged sailing vessels of the time; also spirited sea monsters, flying fish, serpents, and even a winged turtle just off Greenland.

The geographical form of Ortelius' map was at one time believed to follow Gastaldi's world map of c. 1561 incorporating his latest view regarding the separation of America and Asia. However, Ortelius' North America is quite different in outline from Gastaldi and his followers Zaltieri (1566) and Camocio (1567). It seems most likely that Ortelius' source was Mercator's large globe of 1541, although the curious assemblage of large islands called Canada . . . Terra Nova . . . Labrador stretching out across the North Atlantic is a complete misreading of the actual approaches to Canada and the St. Lawrence. Africa and Asia are shown in considerable detail, both being based on recent large-scale works by Gastaldi. The old fortress town of Zimbabwe (marked Symbaoe) is shown for the first time following its discovery by the Portuguese. The East Indies are much more accurately delineated than on other contemporary maps.

Although Plantin's records show that Ortelius' map was widely circulated and that a number of copies reached England, only three copies have survived. These are in the British Library, the Maritime Museum, Rotterdam, and the University Library, Basle. Ortelius' design was copied by De Jode in his smaller cordiform map of 1571 and by Humphrey Gilbert in his much simplified world map of 1576; but apart from these two examples the map's influence was overtaken by Mercator's great new chart of 1569, itself widely disseminated through Ortelius' oval rendering in his Theatrum from 1570 onwards.

The Edward Luther Stevenson Collection

Edward Luther Stevenson was among the most important scholars of early cartography active at the end of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. He was responsible for numerous cartobibliographic books, including the first translation of Ptolemy to English, as well as a series of impressive facsimile maps produced while he was at the Hispanic Society of New York. Dr. Stevenson viewed facsimiles as integral to the study of early cartography, and he committed himself to building an unparalleled collection of photographs of early maps and globes.  Much of his collection was donated to Yale University after his death (click on the title link above for about that), but the present item comes from a large collection of photos, manuscripts, and related material that were part of Stevenson's library, but were not donated to Yale. It is truly an impressive collection and many of the items, though reproductions, have serious antiquarian merit. As Alexander O. Vietor said about Stevenson collection that went to Yale "this is the stuff of which great libraries are made."

Condition Description
Dissected in eight sections and mounted on linen.
Abraham Ortelius Biography

Abraham Ortelius is perhaps the best known and most frequently collected of all sixteenth-century mapmakers. Ortelius started his career as a map colorist. In 1547 he entered the Antwerp guild of St Luke as afsetter van Karten. His early career was as a business man, and most of his journeys before 1560, were for commercial purposes. In 1560, while traveling with Gerard Mercator to Trier, Lorraine, and Poitiers, he seems to have been attracted, largely by Mercator’s influence, towards a career as a scientific geographer. From that point forward, he devoted himself to the compilation of his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World), which would become the first modern atlas.

In 1564 he completed his “mappemonde", an eight-sheet map of the world. The only extant copy of this great map is in the library of the University of Basel. Ortelius also published a map of Egypt in 1565, a plan of Brittenburg Castle on the coast of the Netherlands, and a map of Asia, prior to 1570.

On May 20, 1570, Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum first appeared in an edition of 70 maps. By the time of his death in 1598, a total of 25 editions were published including editions in Latin, Italian, German, French, and Dutch. Later editions would also be issued in Spanish and English by Ortelius’ successors, Vrients and Plantin, the former adding a number of maps to the atlas, the final edition of which was issued in 1612. Most of the maps in Ortelius' Theatrum were drawn from the works of a number of other mapmakers from around the world; a list of 87 authors is given by Ortelius himself

In 1573, Ortelius published seventeen supplementary maps under the title of Additamentum Theatri Orbis Terrarum. In 1575 he was appointed geographer to the king of Spain, Philip II, on the recommendation of Arias Montanus, who vouched for his orthodoxy (his family, as early as 1535, had fallen under suspicion of Protestantism). In 1578 he laid the basis of a critical treatment of ancient geography with his Synonymia geographica (issued by the Plantin press at Antwerp and republished as Thesaurus geographicus in 1596). In 1584 he issued his Nomenclator Ptolemaicus, a Parergon (a series of maps illustrating ancient history, sacred and secular). Late in life, he also aided Welser in his edition of the Peutinger Table (1598).