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Stock# 75121

A Unique Presentation of Metellus's Work; The First Work to Bear the Title of his Magnum Opus. With Metellus's Asia, Africa, and Europe Atlases Combined in One Volume.

Fine and extremely attractive volume containing three of Metellus's atlases, combined to form a model for the most sought-after and rare of Metellus's atlases, the Speculum Orbis Terrae. With a manuscript title page, this example of the Speculum is dated to 1600 and represents the earliest association of this title with Metellus (the printed title page to bear this title dates to 1602). The book contains Metellus's Asia, Africa, and Europe atlases, replete with 182 attractive and very rare maps. This book is remarkable for a number of reasons, including the exceeding rarity of Metellus atlases both on the market and in institutions (only three examples of his Europe atlas are recorded), and because it represents a missing link in the publishing of Metellus atlases.

This unusual presentation starts with a manuscript title page that dates to 1600 and credits Cornelius Sutor's publishing house in Oberursel. The book then opens with Metellus's Asia Tabulis Aenis, containing eleven maps of the Far East, before the book continues with Metellus's Africa Ad Artis Geographicae. The Africa has seven maps but lacks the map of Fessae. The bulk of the book is in the third part, a reordered Europa Tabulis Aenis

The ordering of this book reflects the organization of the 1602 Speculum, which also progresses through Asia, Africa, and Europe in the same order, although the organization of the Europe section is changed. The association of these three atlases with a manuscript title page suggests that the Speculum was conceived by Cornelius Sutor (the publisher of Metellus's posthumous atlas) two years before it was finally published. Metellus and Sutor's Speculum is considered one of the pinnacles of atlas collecting for a number of reasons, including the fact that it was the largest atlas ever produced when it was made, that it was one of the very few atlases to adhere to Mercator's ideal geographically divided atlas, and that it was read by Sir Walter Raleigh and his contemporaries. This example of the Speculum shows the basis for the organization of the 1602 edition and appears to be the earliest attempt to combine all of Metellus's maps in a single volume.

The many maps contained in this volume display the distinctive and attractive qualities of Cologne school maps, including large margins, Lafreri-like details such as stippled seas and rounded mountains, and italic typesetting. Produced for a European audience, many of the maps are titled in two or more languages, a feature rarely seen in Dutch, French, or Italian maps of the 16th century.

IOC plates in later (second?) states with plate numbers in the lower margins. 

"In terms of the number of its volumes and maps, it was the largest atlas undertaking of the 16th century; in this regard, it was not surpassed until the middle of the 17th century, by the multi-volume atlases of Blaeu and Janssonius." - Meurer (translated) 

Johannes Matalius Metellus

Johannes Metellus represented the archetypal 16th-century Northern European humanist. During his career, he resided in Bologna, Rome, Venice, Florence, England, Antwerp, Cologne, and Augsburg, among other cities. He overlapped with the greatest scholars and cartographers of his day, and was involved in some of the greatest atlas projects of all time. He consulted for Ortelius and Plantain on cartographic matters, while he also wrote the introduction for Volume III of Braun and Hogenberg's Civitates Orbis Terrarum.

Metellus was clearly a very highly regarded figure, and near the end of his life he started producing his own atlases in Cologne. His first work was the 1594 Franciae, Austrasiae, et Helvetiae, which featured maps of Europe and re-used plates from an anonymous earlier work, the Itinerarium orbis Christiani, to which Metellus is believed to have contributed. Metellus produced three more atlases before he died in 1597.

Metellus's largest atlases were all produced posthumously between 1600 and 1602 by an anonymous friend of Metellus, although the authorship of some of the plates that appeared in these volumes is unknown. The first four posthumous atlases, published in Oberursel by "Cornelius Sutor," appeared in 1600, and these were his continental atlases of Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Americas. 1601 saw the publication of Metellus's Insularium, a book on islands, and these five books were all joined in 1602 as part of a Speculum Orbis Terrae. The Speculum, which was ordered Asia; Africa; Europe; and the Americas, had island maps from the Insularium interspersed. The book was the largest atlas of its time, and would remain so until the Jannson - Blaeu rivalry of the middle of the 16th century.

Metellus and the rest of the Cologne School publishers, with the exception of Braun and Hogenberg who found their niche in city views, lagged too far behind the well-established Dutch atlas makers to establish themselves internationally. Despite their attractive maps, insightful cartography, and central European location, their maps were never as widely disseminated. For this reason, all Cologne School atlases, even the important Metellus atlases, remain rare today.


Meurer records only three examples of the Europe atlas, at the Staatsbibliothek Berlin; the Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen; and the  Staats- and Stadtbibliothek Augsburg. The Asia atlas is recorded in six institutions: Staatsbibliothek Berlin; the Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen; the Bayern State Library; the Staats- and Stadtbibliothek Augsburg; the British Library; and the Royal Library in Brussels. The Africa atlas is recorded in six examples, in the Staatsbibliothek Berlin; the Universitätsbibliothek Göttingen; the  Staats- and Stadtbibliothek Augsburg; the Herzog August Bibliothek; and the Royal Library in Brussels.

Metellus's atlases are very uncommon to see on the market. Only three have appeared on the market in the last 15 years: Asia Tabulis AenisFranciae, Austrasiae, et Helvetiae, geographica historiaquae; and the Speculum Orbis Terrae. The example of the Speculum, for which this book appears to be the imminent predecessor, fetched about 390,000 dollars at Sotheby's, London, in 2019.


As previously stated, this book contains the Metellus Asia, Africa, and Europe atlases. These are complete with the exception of the Africa atlas, which lacks the map of Fessae. In addition, no title page to the Europe atlas is included in the book.

The Asia and Africa atlases are ordered as per usual. The Europe atlas is completely re-ordered, in a very unusual manner that appears to have no parallel in any other known atlas. This part starts with the first eighteen maps in the correct order, before including maps 122 - 158 (using Meurer's collation). Then, the atlas proceeds to maps 19 to 121. Maps 159 - 163 appear between map 18 and map 53. This decision to reorder is understood to result in a focus on more general, country-wide maps at the start of the book before proceeding with local German, French, and Dutch maps at the end.

A previous collation of this work has suggested that the book includes maps from the Itinerarium Orbis Christiani that are not present in the Metellus Europa Tabulis Aenis. This does not appear to be the case, as the maps which are suggested to have appeared in the Itinerarium are reported by Meurer to have been reused by Metellus in the Europa. Thus, this part is simply a rearranged Europa.

The maps included in the work are the following:


  1. Asia
  2. Iaponia Regnum
  3. Magni Tartari Imperium
  4. Regnum Chinae
  5. Regnum Sian
  6. Regnum Narsingae
  7. Calecuty Regnum
  8. Magni Mogori Imperium
  9. Persiae Regnum
  10. Natoliam
  11. Syria
  12. Arabia


  1. Africa
  2. Babaria
  3. Aegyptus
  4. Lybia & Nigritarum Terra
  5. Regnu Congo
  6. Presbiteri Iohannis Imperium
  7. Regnum Monomotapae


  1. Europa
  2. Septentrionalium Terrarum descriptio 1597
  3. Islandia Insula
  4. Anglia Scotia et Hibernia
  5. Hibernia Irlandt Irlande
  6. Anglia Lat Ingilaterra Itali Engellandt Ger Angleterre. Gal
  7. Cambria Cambry Wales
  8. Scotia Regnum
  9. Daniae Regnu
  10. Sueciae Regnum
  11. Moscovia
  12. Tavrica Chersonesus nostra aetate Przecpsca et Gazara dicta
  13. Lithuania
  14. Polonia Lithania Livonia
  15. Moldavia et Walachia Transalpina
  16. Transylvania
  17. Hungaria Ungarn
  18. Grecia Griechnlandt Grece
  19. Thracia nunc Romania
  20. Peloponnesus Nunc Morea
  21. Cretea Seu Candiae Insulai Descriptio
  22. Illyricum
  23. Italia
  24. Liguria nunc Oragenuensis
  25. Thuscia
  26. Perusini agri Descriptio
  27. Senensis Ditio
  28. Umbria nunc Spoletinus Ducatus
  29. Latium nunc Campagna di Roma
  30. Campania Foelix aut Terralaboris
  31. Lucania vulgo Basilicata
  32. Brutu nunc Calabria
  33. Magna Grecia nunc Calabria Superior
  34. Puglia Italice Terra di Otranto
  35. Apulia Peucetia nunc Terra Bariana
  36. Apulia Daunia nunc Apuliam Piana Vocant
  37. Samnitum Regio quae nunc Apricium
  38. Marchia Anconitana Olim Picenum
  39. Flaminia que et Romanula Nunc Vulgo Romandiola
  40. Regy et Modenae Territoriu
  41. Parmensis Placentiniq Ducatus Descriptio
  42. Alexandria Tortonae et Vogerae Territorium
  43. Montisferati Marchionatus
  44. Pedemontium Piedmont
  45. Rhetiae pars et Le Pontioru Regio
  46. Mediolanensis Ducatus
  47. Brixiae Territorium
  48. Agri Cremonensis Typus
  49. Mantuae Ducatus
  50. Verona Urbis Territorium
  51. Tyrolensis Comitatus pars ea ad Italiam spectat
  52. Vicentinae Urbis Territorium
  53. Territorium Patavinum
  54. Taruisini Agri Typus
  55. Forum tuly Friuli
  56. Histri Titerreich Istrie
  57. Ischia quae olim Aenaria
  58. Siciliae Regnum
  59. Malta Olim Melita Insula
  60. Germania
  61. Frisia Orientalis
  62. Aldeburgensis Comitatus
  63. Bremensis Episcopatus
  64. Hoisatia Holstein Holsatie
  65. Megapolitanus Ducatus Vulgo Meclenburg
  66. Pomerania & Brandenburg
  67. Prussia Lat Preussen Ger
  68. Livonia
  69. Marca Brandenburgensis & Pomerania
  70. Lawenburgensis et Luneburginsis Ducatus
  71. Westphalia Westphalen Westphalie
  72. Brunsuicensis Ducatus
  73. Mansfeldia Mansfeltt Mansfelt
  74. Meydburgensis Archi Episcopatus
  75. Misnia Meissen Misne
  76. Lusatiae Marchionatus [Inverted]
  77. Silesia Schlesien Silesie
  78. Morauia Merhern
  79. Bohemia
  80. Thurangia Thuringen Thuringie
  81. Hassia Hesse Hessen
  82. Comitatus Waldeckensis De Franschaftt Baldeck La Conte de Waldeck
  83. Arnspergicus Comitatuset Coloniensis Diocesis Superior
  84. Marchiae Comitatus
  85. Clibia Cleue Cleues
  86. Iulia Bulich Iulliers
  87. Listhunss Luttich Leuesche De Liege
  88. Trier
  89. Franconia Franckenlandt
  90. Palatinatus Superior Bavariae
  91. Austria Archiducatus
  92. Stiria Steyr march Stiremarche
  93. Carinthia Karntn carinthie
  94. Episcopatus Salczburgensis
  95. Bavariae Ducatus
  96. Tyrol
  97. Sweviae Circulus Duwrtenberg hett
  98. Wurtemberg la Duche de Wirtemberg
  99. Belgium Il Paese Basso Niderlandt Le Pays Bas
  100. Brabantiae Ducatus Brabans
  101. Limburgensis Ducatus et Comitatus Valkenburgensis et Dalemsis
  102. Lutzenburgensis Ducatus Lutzenburg Hertzogthumb
  103. Geldriae Ducatus Hesserens Hertzogthumb
  104. Flandria Hiacndercn Fiandra Elandren
  105. Artesia
  106. Nobilis Commitatus Hannoniae Henegav Hanailutt
  107. Hollandiae Comitatus Hollant
  108. Zutphaniae Comitatus
  109. Zelandia
  110. Conamur Cum Namur
  111. Frisia Occidetalis
  112. Ultraiectensis Episcopatus
  113. Transinsula Ditio
  114. Groningense Territorium
  115. Francia Franckreich
  116. Caletense Terr Territoire de Calais
  117. Boloniensis Comitatus Lacomtede Boloigne
  118. Ponthieu Comitatus
  119. Normannia Normandie Gallice
  120. Picardia Picardie Galli
  121. Veromanduorum Comitatus La Comte de Vermandois
  122. Bellosiana Regio La Beausse Gallice
  123. Campania Etbria Champaigne et Brie Galli
  124. Cenomania Le Mans Gallice
  125. Bellosiana Regio La Beausse Gallice
  126. Burgundiae Ducatu Bourgogne Duche
  127. Britannia Bretagne Gallic
  128. Andegaunsis Ducatus Aniou Herzogthumb
  129. Briturigus Berry Gallice
  130. Pictauia Poictou
  131. Borbonia Borbonnois Niuernesium Niuernois
  132. Angolismia Engoulesme Santones Xantonge Rupella La Rochelle
  133. Limogiana Provincia Limosin Gallice
  134. Arvernia Auvergne Gallice
  135. Limania Vulgo Limaigne
  136. Lugduenesium Lyonnois Gallice
  137. Delphinatus Dauphine Gallice
  138. Vasconia Gascogne gallice Guienna Guienne 
  139. Periguria Perigort Cadurcorum regio Quercy
  140. Languedoci Languedoc Gallice
  141. Provincia La Provence
  142. Venaissinus Comitatus La Comte devenissy Auraicensis Principatus La Principaut Dorenge
  143. Lotharingiae Lorraine Gallica
  144. Pallatinatus Bavaria Pfaliz am Rhein
  145. Alsatia Inferior
  146. Alsatia Superior
  147. Sunggoia Sungow
  148. Burgundiae Comitatus La Franch Comte
  149. Sabaudia Sauoye Gallice
  150. Nuitlandia Uchtlandia
  151. Argovia Tuguri Praeff Turgouia
  152. Rhethia Grawbundt Grisons Gallice
  153. Valesiae Wallisser Landt
  154. Hispania Espana
  155. Castilia Estrema Dura Aesturie Navarra
  156. Galitia Galizia hisp
  157. Portugallia Portugal
  158. Andalusia Andaluzia Hisp
  159. Hispalensis Conventus Delinatio
  160. Granatae Regnu Reyno de Granada
  161. Valentiae Regnu Reyno de Valentia Hispa
  162. Aragonia et Catalonia Aragon y Cataluna
  163. Guipuscoa Guipuzcua hisp
Condition Description
Quarto. Modern antique-style limp vellum with ribbons and spine reading "Matalij Metelli ~ Specului Orbis" and blue-rimmed pastedown annotated B42. [6]; [Manuscript title]; Asia Tabulis Aenis; [2]; A - M, complete with 11 maps; Africa Ad Artis Geographicae; [2]; A, C-H [Lacking map of Fessae]; aa-ss; bbb; aaa; ccc-ddd; ZZ; YY; A-C; C2; C3; D-Q; Q2; Q3; Q4; R - R6; S - S5; T - Z; A; A - Z; Aa - Pp; a - q (k and m erroneously reversed); 1 - 39; A - K [representing Metellus's complete Europe atlas, without title page]. Minor splitting of front pastedown sheet to board at top. Manuscript title with some loss of lettering due to oxidation of ink. Book otherwise in perfect condition. Manuscript 20th-century pencil collation at front and contemporary paginations in ink.
Meurer; MET 6, 7, 8, 10.
Johannes Matalius Metellus Biography

Johannes Matalius Metellus, also known as Jean Matal or Johannes Metellus Sequanas, was born in Poligny, Burgundy, France in ca. 1517. A humanist scholar, he was a polymath devoted to cartography, geography, law, paleography, and antiquarianism. Late in life he published a series of atlases; all his maps and atlases are rare and highly sought-after.

Matal was educated at Dole, Freiburg, and several Italian institutions. At Bologna, he met Antonio Agustín, a Spanish legal scholar, who recruited Matal to be his secretary. Together, the men researched ecclesiastical law, with an especial emphasis on Roman legal manuscripts, with trips to Venice, Florence, and elsewhere in Italy to study codices. In 1555, the two traveled to England to meet with Queen Mary on a mission for the Church.

After leaving his employment with Agustín, Matal traveled in the Low Countries and eventually settled in Cologne. There, he mixed with other savants, including especially Georg Cassander and Pedro Ximénez. It was in Cologne that Matal began his serious interest in mapmaking. He contributed to Braun and Hogenberg’s Civitae Orbis Terrarum; Georg Braun described him in glowing terms, “vir omni scientiarum genere praestans"—"a man outstanding in every form of knowledge."  

Late in life, Matal began preparing a set of maps of the entire world. In 1594, he published an atlas of France, Austria, and Switzerland (39 maps), in 1595 an atlas of Spain (10 maps), and, posthumously, an atlas of Italy (37 maps), and one of Germany and the Netherlands (55 maps). Many of these maps were combined and augmented into atlases of Europe, Asia, Africa, the Americas, and the world’s islands. In 1602, a compendium work showcased all of these previous works called Speculum Orbis Terrae; this atlas was well received by contemporaries like Walter Raleigh and is very rare today. Many of these maps and atlases were released after his death in 1598, they were finished by his friend and fellow mapmaker Conrad Loew (Matthias Quad).