The First of the Cloppenburgh-Edition Mercator Atlases and the First Appearance of Australia in an Atlas
"This is the first of the so-called Cloppenburgh editions...", as Koeman explains, and it is a beautiful example of this 1630 French-language edition of the Mercator-Hondius Atlas Minor.
The world map in this atlas was also the first to include a depiction of the Dutch encounters with western Australia, shown as a coastline called T lant van Eendracht.
This was the first edition to utilize the newly-engraved plates, most of which were engraved by Pieter van den Keere for Johannes Cloppenburgh. The Cloppenburgh edition offers the largest maps featured in any of the reduced versions of the Mercator-Hondius atlas.
Two other Cloppenburgh editions were issued in 1632 and 1636, after which the atlas was suppressed, most likely by Johannes Janssonius, who had a competing miniature atlas. In 1673, this atlas was resurrected by Johannes Janssonius's son-in-law, Johannes Janssonius van Waesberge, who expanded it (see this example).
The atlas’ 180 maps offer comprehensive coverage of the world as it was then known to Europeans. It includes fine regional maps for Asia, Africa, and the Americas, roughly following the outline in the folio-sized Mercator-Hondius Atlas.
First depiction of Australia in an atlas
This atlas also has the distinction of being the first atlas to feature a map that shows part of the Australian coastline. The world map in this atlas is a reduced version of Hondius’ ca. 1625 world map, which was the first world map to show the Dutch encounters with the west coast of Australia.
This world map features T lant van Eendracht. The Eendracht was blown off course en route to the East Indies in 1616. It was commanded by Dirk Hartog. Hartog’s landing was the first recorded European landing on the western coast of Australia and the crew commemorated their discovery by erecting a post with a pewter dish inscribed with their ship’s information—the earliest physical record extant of any European landing in Australia. Hartog returned to tell of his feat to his employer, the Dutch East India Company (VOC), and the landmass began to feature on maps in the 1620s.
The Mercator-Hondius Atlas
One of Hondius’ most successful commercial ventures was the reprinting of Mercator’s atlas. Gerard Mercator died in 1594 without having completed his most ambitious project, an atlas of the entire world. His son and grandsons completed the work and released its final volume in 1595.
The younger Mercators released another edition in 1602, but they then sold the plates to Jodocus Hondius the Elder in 1604. Hondius published his first edition in 1606; there were roughly fifty editions in various European languages in the seventeenth century.
Hondius died in 1612, at only 48 years of age, after which time his son of the same name and his other 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.
In 1630, Dutch cartographer and publisher Johannes Cloppenburgh arranged the re-engraving of the Mercator atlas in a reduced version; it was the last of the four reduced versions to be produced and features the largest maps of any of them. Most of the engraving was done by the skilled Pieter van den Keere. The work was published as the Atlas Minor in 1630, 1632, and 1636, with an expansion by Janssonius van Waesberge in 1673.
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.
Gerard Mercator is one of the most famous cartographers of all time. Mercator was born in Flanders and educated at the Catholic University in Leuven. After his graduation in 1532, Mercator worked with Gemma Frisius, a prominent mathematician, and Gaspar a Myrica, a goldsmith and engraver. Together, these men produced globes and scientific instruments, allowing Mercator to hone his skills.
With his wife, Barbara, Mercator had six children: Arnold, Emerentia, Dorothes, Bartholomeus, Rumold, and Catharina. In 1552, Mercator moved to Duisburg from Leuven, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1564, he was appointed the official cosmographer to the court of Duke Wilhelm of Cleve.
Mercator’s most important contribution was the creation and popularization of a projection which now bears his name. On Mercator projection maps, all parallels and meridians are drawn at right angles to each other, with the distance between the parallels extending towards the poles. This allowed for accurate latitude and longitude calculation and also allowed navigational routes to be drawn using straight lines, a huge advantage for sailors as this allowed them to plot courses without constant recourse to adjusting compass readings.
Mercator’s other enduring contribution to cartography is the term “atlas”, which was first used to describe his collection of maps gathered in one volume. The Mercator atlas was published in 1595, a year after Mercator’s death, thanks to the work of his sons, particularly Rumold, and his grandsons.