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A nice example of Henricus Hondius' map of the coast of South America, between the Orinoco River and the Amazon, centered on Parime Lacus, the rumored home of 'El Dorado'.

This attractive map depicts the region of South America, which runs from the mouth of the Amazon in Brazil, and west through Guyana to the mouths of the Orinoco River in Venezuela.

The present map is from the rare English edition of Hondius's atlas, A Geographicke Description of the World (1636), and would have been of considerable interest to the contemporary English observers.

The great English explorer, adventurer and pirate, Sir Walter Raleigh (1554-1618) came to ardently believe in the rumor that the mythical "Parime Lacus", seen in the middle of the present map, was home to the apocryphal 'El Dorado', or 'City of Gold'. Indeed, the city of 'Manoa, o El Dorado, is noted on the map. Raleigh mounted two expeditions to the region, in 1594 and 1616, and although he returned empty-handed, the legend endured to tempt future adventurers.

The English edition is rare on the market.

Jodocus Hondius Biography

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.