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Fantastic Matching Set of Seventeenth-Century Dutch Globes, Including Captain John Smith's Lost Earliest Mapping of Virginia.

Exceptional matching pair of 17-inch (44 cm) globes by the famed mapmakers Johannes Janssonius and Jodocus Hondius II, engraved by Abraham Goos, and originally published in Amsterdam in 1623. This pair was published in 1648.

Seventeenth-century Dutch globes of this size are all remarkable rarities; however, this set is particularly impressive for a number of reasons. The globes are among the earliest to incorporate the discoveries of Schouten and Le Maire, Hudson, and Frederick de Houtman. Most importantly, the terrestrial globe reveals information from a lost version of Captain John Smith's earliest mapping of Virginia that predates his 1612 map, shedding further light on the friendship between Smith, Henry Hudson, and Jodocus Hondius the Elder. 

As the globe is dedicated to the Dutch West India Company ("GWC"), it provides an important perspective on Dutch colonial aspirations during the early stage of the settling of North America when they were competing for control over lucrative territories with the English and the French.

Watch Geography Geek's video on these globes and their story:

How a Map Mistake Led to the Founding of New York City

Lacus Salsus Apalatcius and the Lost Maps of John Smith

The most intriguing piece of cartography on these globes is undoubtedly the large inland lake west of Virginia, which is labeled "Lacus Salsus Apalatcius" (Appalachian Salt Lake). The lake is joined to the Atlantic by two rivers "R. Grande" at roughly 40°N and "Pamunca fluv." at roughly 37°N. In Virginia, the following toponyms are shown: Pawtuxsin, Nacontangh, Warawacomoco, Iacobipolis (Jamestown), Rassawick, and Chesepuoc Sinus.

The source of this cartography has eluded map scholars for some time; those that commented on the mapping (and there have not been many) tended to tie it to previous renderings of the Sea of Verrazanno, the great inland sea that was popular on maps of the mid-16th century. However, the Sea of Verrazanno had largely been dismissed by serious mapmaker by the late 16th century, and here the region includes Native American toponyms that reflect actual observations of the region in question, not just century-old conjecture. From where then does it derive? The most important clue to the source of the information lies in the aforementioned toponyms. They are unique to Captain John Smith's early reports about Virginia. Namely his 1608 A True Relation, the first printed work covering his efforts to establish the colony.

Interestingly, this mapping does not derive exclusively (or perhaps at all) from the printed accounts in Smith's A True Relation. In that book, Smith described how he hoped to launch an expedition up the "Pamunca" River in search of the South Sea, but that those plans were delayed by other events. There is nowhere near the level of detail necessary to construct a map of this depth from the text alone. Interestingly, the "Pamunca fluv." on this map is probably not the Pamunkey River of modern Virginia. On the terrestrial globe, Jamestown is shown north of the river, thus the globe's "Pamunca fluv." is probably actually the present-day James River. This is further corroborated by the fact that it is shown as the farthest-south large river in Virginia.

In fact, the key to the map comes from a fascinating meeting between Jodocus Hondius the Elder and Henry Hudson in The Hague in 1608.

Henry Hudson, Jodocus Hondius, and John Smith

In 1608, fresh from his expedition to the Arctic for the Muscovy Company, Hudson was called to the Netherlands to discuss with Petrus Plancius and Jodocus Hondius the possibility of discovering a Northeast or Northwest Passage to the East Indies. Furthermore, he was to discuss with the VOC a contract for an expedition to search for such a passage. Both Plancius and Hondius urged Hudson to focus his efforts on the Northeast Passage, which they felt had a much higher likelihood of success. However, while staying with Hondius in The Hague, Hudson received a letter and package of maps from none other than John Smith who was at the time exploring Virginia. This package would throw the assertions of Plancius and Hondius into question.

In mid-1608, Smith was just about to undertake his comprehensive survey of Virginia and was hot on the trail of rumors of a great lake, which local Indians told him lay not far inland. Smith had not seen it himself but felt confident enough in his triangulation of the Indian reports that he could relay his findings to others in Europe. The fact that there was a large inland lake somewhere in North America was tantalizing because, according to the theories of the day, such a large body of water would probably have offshoot rivers that exited to the Pacific Ocean in the west.  Smith knew of Hudson's desire to find an alternate passage to the East Indies and hoped by sending him this information he would entice him to search for it in North America, in or near the Virginia colony.

Smith's letter and maps suggested that the entrance to the great inland lake could be found through a river or rivers lying somewhere between 37° and 40° North latitude. Crucially for our story, Hudson showed this material to Hondius and allowed him to make copies of Smith's manuscript maps for his own archive. This exchange between John Smith, Henry Hudson, and Jodocus Hondius the Elder, is what gave rise to the mapping we see on this globe.  This episode is summarized in Edward Butts's 2009 biography of Hudson, Henry Hudson: New World Voyager.

This information from Smith played a pivotal role in Hudson's life. In 1609, having taken the contract from the VOC, Hudson sailed to the Arctic in search of the Northeast Passage. Reaching Nova Zemblaya and facing increasingly difficult conditions, Hudson suffered a near-mutiny. To mollify his crew, Hudson presented them with two options: explore the coast of present-day Maine following Weymouth's route, or explore Smith's reports in the vicinity of the latitudes he had suggested. It was decided that they would pursue Smith's reports, and so Hudson sailed to the Mid-Atlantic Coast of North America. Hudson first sailed towards the Chesapeake and Smith, but for some reason, he turned north before reaching the colony. He then explored the Delaware Bay (then poorly known to Europeans), and finally arrived at the mouth of what is now the Hudson River.  The entrance to that river coincided closely with Smith's reports, and so Hudson sailed up it. However, upon reaching the area that is now Albany, New York, and finding that the river stretched due-north rather than due-west as promised, Hudson became discouraged and returned to Europe. Despite his lack of success vis-a-vis his own expectations, this was a major discovery - one which was made possible by Smith's map.

The 1611 (1618) Hondius World Map

Smith's early-1608 mapping can be further explored in another great map by the Hondius firm. The extremely impressive 20-sheet wall map Novissima ac Exactissima Totius Orbis Terrarum Descriptio Magna cura & industrial ex optimist quibusq[uae] tabulis Geographicis et Hydrographicis nuperrimisq[uae] doctorum virorum observationib. duobus planisphaerijs delineata Auct. J. Hondio. also includes a version of the Smith inland sea (illustrated as the second image above).

This map, known in only two examples of supposed later states (with a third having been destroyed in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906), is one of the great triumphs of the Hondius firm, with Shirley (273) calling it "an outstanding masterpiece of cartographical engraving which may be considered to surpass even those wall maps of Blaeu (1605), Plancius (1607), and Hondius' own predecessor map of 1608 on Mercator's projection." Shirley outlines the ambiguity surrounding the authorship of the map, saying "Jodocus Hondius senior died in 1612 and it cannot be positively established whether the original map was by him or by his elder son of the same name." Shirley says of the North American cartography: "In North America, Hondius has used the occasion to expound current theories postulating a vast inland sea west of present-day Virginia."

That map shows the inland sea (here so-labeled "Mare Septentionale Americae") joined to the Atlantic by two unnamed rivers. Virginia includes the following toponyms: Pamunka, "The Fort" (Jamestown), Powhaton, Rassawick, Maskunt, Monahassanus, Rupes, Oquetan, Mashawater, Acquohonak.

Hondius's world map also includes a note confirming that the information about Virginia comes from English observations in 1608:

Pawhaton Rex praecipuus totius Virginiae, Rex item Pamunka aliq[uae] multi, testantur hoc loco magnum esse mare, in coq[uae] naves Anglicis navibus persimiles esse detectas Video Anlorū observations anni 1608. Floridani idem affirmāt.

A further note connects the English observations of 1608 with those of Jose de Acosta and suggests access to China:  "...Testatur idem Chinesium naves fracas, esse visas in Mari Septentrionali Americano."

Interestingly, the cartography appearing on the 1623 globe is more restrained, not showing the sea stretching deep into North America but rather penned in by the St. Lawrence River and the Appalachian Mountains. This might reflect a theory that, by 1623, had gained important proponents. That theory held that there was a large mountain range on the interior of the continent, and only once that was crossed could one access the rivers leading to the Pacific. It is summarized by Henry Briggs, writing in his A Treatise of the Northwest Passage to the South Sea, through the Continent of Virginia and by Fretum Hudson, in Waterhouse's A declaration of the state of the colony and affaires in Virginia... (1622):

Neither is the commodiousnesse of VIRGINIAS situation onely in respect of this west Atlanticke Ocean, but also in respect of the Indian Ocean, which wee commonly call the South Sea, which lyeth on the West and North west side of VIRGINIA, on the other side of the Mountains beyond our Fals, and openeth a free and faire passage, not onely to China, Iapan, and the Moluccaes; but also to New Spaine, Peru, Chila, and those rich Countries of Terra Australis, not as yet fully discouered. For the Sea wherein Master Hudson did winter, which was first discouered by him, and is therefore now called Fretum Hudson, doth stretch so farre towards the west, that it lieth as farre westward as the Cape of Florida: So that from the Fals aboue Henrico City, if we shape our iourney towards the Northwest following the Riuers towards the head, we shall vndoubtedly come to the Mountaines, which as they send diuers great Riuers Southward into our Bay of Chesepiock, so likewise doe they send others from their further side Northwestward into that Bay where Hudson did winter.

Writing in his Generall Historie (1624), Smith himself had revised his earlier optimistic report to reflect his new belief in the existence of a large inland body of water on the other side of the Appalachian Mountains:

Beyond the mountains from whence is the head of the River Patawomeke, the Savages report, inhabit their most mortal enemies, the Massawomecks, upon a great salt water, which by all likelihood is either some part of Canada, some great lake, or some inlet of some sea that falleth into the South Sea. These Massawomekes are a great nation and very populous... from the French [they] have their hatchets and Commodities by trade.

This theory is also illustrated on Smith's 1612 map of Virginia, which was published again in earnest starting in 1624.

Interestingly, this neo-Sea of Verrazzano appears one other time in the decade following the publication of the globes; in Pieter Verbiest's 1630 Ampla Et Accuratissima Universi Orbis Terrarum Tabula Geographica Aucta Et Emendata Auct: I. Verbiest (Shirley 338), the inland salt lake of Hondius has been expanded into a prodigious channel going straight through to the Pacific.

Other Terrestrial Geography

Hondius and Jansson were careful to include the important discoveries of the day, including Hudson's discovery of Hudson Bay (along with a note, in English, denoting where he wintered). Schouten and Le Maire's 1618 discovery of the Le Maire Strait was of particular interest to their Dutch audience and also makes it on the map.

In North America, the makers are optimistic about the extent of the St. Lawrence River, extending it all the way to the American Southwest. This is an unusual though not unprecedented mapping.

The Davis Strait, Greenland, and James Bay are probably derived from Hessel Gerritsz's 1612 Tabula nautica.

In Australia, still a looming shadow of a landmass, a lengthy note regarding the construction of the terrestrial globe states:

 [In translation] To my reader. Much to be found on this globe was unknown to the ancients. And not only have the errors of the ancients been exposed, but new lands (are also given). Many have published globes: but one may truly say that up until now none has been published which contains everything so elegantly. You will find changes here in all of America and in and around the Tartar Ocean as well as a maximum of new things in other places. Therefore, reader, make use of this newest and most exact globe...

The dedication to the West India Company is translated by van der Krogt:

To the most noble, splendid, skilful [sic] and prudent lords, the lords curators of the West India Company Johannes Janssonius, their most humble servant, gladly and rightly gives, consecrates and dedicates these his celestial and terrestrial globes. In the year 1623.

Celestial Globe

Van Der Krogt translates the cartouche thusly:

A new globe adjusted with the greatest industry, zeal and diligence by the most renowned Adriaan Metius, Ordinary Professor of Mathematics in Franeker, to the tables of the most noble Tycho Brahe, enlarged by a maximum of observations, both those around the Arctic pole being made by himself, and those around the Antarctic by his disciple Frederick de Houtman, all adapted to the year 1630. Published by Jodocus Hondius, 1623.

The celestial globe includes the new constellations discovered by Frederick de Houtmann on the first Dutch voyage to the East Indies, as well as during his two years of captivity under the Sultan of Aceh.

Jansson versus Blaeu in the Middle of the Seventeenth Century

For decades in the middle of the seventeenth century, the firms Jansson and Blaeu were engaged in ongoing one-upmanship in the map, atlas, and globe market. If Blaeu published a two-volume atlas with 210 maps, Jansson would closely follow with a three-volume 300-map atlas. If Blaeu published a map of a given region, Jansson would quickly start printing his own map of that region. This process continued on and on.

After the death of Willem Jansz. Blaeu in 1638, the competition picked up still more; both firms issued a new multi-volume atlas: the Atlas novus. At that point, they did not hesitate to issue more and more volumes and to copy one another's maps extensively. By the end of 1658, Bleau had published an Atlas novus with six volumes and 400 maps, while Jansson had published a six-volume Atlas novus with 450 maps.

A new weapon was needed in the atlas wars, and so Jansson issued his 10 to 11 volume German-language Novus Atlas absolutissimus. The set had a huge complement of maps, between 500 and 550, and when combined with Cellarius's celestial atlas, and Jansson's eight-volume town book, his firm was the first to realize a complete description of the countries, towns, oceans, and heavens, following the sixteenth-century Mercator concept.

By contrast to the Blaeu Family, who from the start were quite prolific as globe makers, globes by Hondius and Jansson are far rarer on the market. Peter van der Krogt contextualizes the publication of these globes amid the competition between the Hondius-Jansson and Blaeu families:

A few years earlier, in 1623, Jodocus Hondius Jr. had put a new globe pair on the market, in conjunction with his brother-in-law, Johannes Janssonius (HON VI). This set of globes, with a diameter of 17½ inches (44 cm.) may be viewed as a reaction to Blaeu's large pair, a new edition of which had been published in 1622. In an Advice to the Reader on the terrestrial globe, the makers explain to future buyers why they have published a new globe when there are already so many available:

'To my reader. Much is to be found on this globe that was unknown to the ancients. And not only have the errors of the ancients been exposed, but new lands (are also given). Many have published globes; but one may truly say that up until now none has been published which contains everything so elegantly. You will find changes here in all of America and in and around the Tartar Ocean, as well as a maximum of new things in other places. Therefore, reader, make use of this newest and most exact globe. Because, according to Pindarus, the days which will come are the best witness. Farewell and be benevolent towards our labours.'

Hondius and Janssonius were only the publishers of this globe. The copper plates were engraved by Abraham Goos, a nephew of Jodocus the Elder's widow. Goos was also responsible for drawing the map. Adriaan Metius is the author of the accompanying celestial globe.


There are three known editions of the terrestrial globe: 1623, 1636, and 1648. Van der Krogt records the following matched pairs of the 1648 (terrestrial state 3, celestial state 2) Hondius-Jansson 44-centimeter globes: Fécamp, Bibliotheque Municipale; Lüneburg, Museum für das Fürstentum Lüneburg; and Milan, private collection, Marchesi Borromeo (Stevenson II 66-67).


The Hondius-Jansson globes are illustrative of a fascinating time when the first broad hints of the interior geography of North America were filtering back to European explorers. The maps of Le Moyne, Lescarbot, Smith, and Champlain all hinted at the existence of the Great Lakes but had yet to place them definitely. It was not until the later works of Champlain and other French explorers that the true outline became known to European cartographers. In the interim, speculative and hopeful maps such as the Hondius globe appeared.

Questions about the globes remain: Jodocus Hondius II was the publisher, in 1618, of the first (and one of the best) derivative maps from Smith's 1612 Virginia. Given that he was in possession of such a good map of Virginia, why, in 1623, did he revert to the family's archives for this cartography? Is it possible that, as with the 20-sheet world map, this globe was a project of Jodocus Hondius the Elder and was already underway in 1612 when the latter died? Furthermore, what became of Hondius's copies of the Smith maps, and might they still survive in a Dutch archive?

This is an important discovery in the study of both Captain John Smith and the early cartography of Virginia and it is deserving of further research.

Condition Description
Terrestrial and celestial spheres with original hand-color, expertly retouched. Both spheres cleaned, but without any appreciable facsimile. Spheres mounted within graduated brass meridian rings with brass hour circles mounted at the tops of meridian rings. Hand-colored paper horizon rings; the horizons and spheres on turned oak, four-legged Dutch-type stands, flat cross-stretchers supporting turned base plates with wooden central globe supports. (All brasswork and stands replaced in expert facsimile.)
Edward Butts, Henry Hudson: New World Voyager (2009); Van der Krogt, Globi Neerlandici, HON VI, pages 187-190, 484-486. AC
Jan Jansson Biography

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.