The Mysterious Final Blaeu World Map!
Decorative double hemisphere world map on a polar projection, which was originally engraved by Johannes Blaeu circa 1672, but apparently never issued by Blaeu.
This finely executed map was one of the final maps engraved by the Blaeu mapmaking family, likely completed on the event of the fire which destroyed the Blaeu company warehouse in 1672. The plate survived and was acquired by Gerald Valck, who replaced Blaeu's imprint with his own. Traces of Blaeu's original imprint can still be seen in the title cartouche at the bottom center of the map.
The map shows California as an island; one of only two Blaeu maps to depict this cartographic myth. Other North American cartographic myths include the massive single Great Lake and the Rio Grande flowing southwestward to the Gulf of California, along with the mythical Straits of Anian, which are pushed north nearly to the Polar Circle.
In the Pacific, the coastlines of New Zealand and Australia are beginning to take shape. In South America, the mythical Parime Lacus is shown on the Equator, and the southern tip of the continent is oddly truncated due to the projection.
In Asia, the relative sizes of the Philippines and Japan are greatly exaggerated.
The map is embellished with images of billowing clouds, the sun, moon and an armillary sphere at top. The bottom of the map shows Eve emerging from the rib of Adam on the left, and on the right, a clothed and ashamed Adam is about to depart the Garden of Eden.
Gerard Valk, or Gerrit Leendertsz Valck (1652-1726) together with his son Leonard, were the only significant publishers of globes in the Netherlands in the eighteenth century, enjoying an almost total monopoly in the first half of the 1700's. Initially an engraver and art dealer, and having worked for map-sellers Christopher Browne and David Loggan in London between 1672 and 1679, Valk established the firm in Amsterdam in 1687. Initially, they published maps and atlases, but in 1700 the company moved the shop to the building previously occupied by map and globe-maker Jodocus Hondius. In 1701, he applied for a charter for making globes and the "Planetolabium", designed by Lotharius Zumbach de Coesfelt (1661-1727), an astronomy lecturer at Leiden University. The Valks produced several editions of 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24-inch diameter terrestrial and celestial globes. The cartography, as stated on the cartouche, is based closely on the celestial atlas Uranographia, published in 1687 by the celebrated Polish astronomer Johannes Hevelius (1611-1687).
Around 1711, when he became a member of the bookseller's guild, Leonard Valk (1675-1746) came into partnership and his name started to appear alongside that of his father on the cartouches of the globes, although the earliest of these, both terrestrial and celestial, still bear the date 1700. Leonard naturally took over the business on his father's death in 1726, and following his own death in 1746 the firm was run by Maria Valk, cousin, and wife to Gerard. By then its days of glory had passed. Leonard Valk died in relative poverty: his wife had to take in the washing of their aunt to make ends meet. The late eighteenth century saw a number of successful reissues by publisher Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who ran the famous cartographical publishing house of Covens & Mortier (1721-1866) in Amsterdam. This firm was the biggest Dutch one for publishing maps in the 18th century. It was located on the Vijgendam (Fig Dam), the southern part of what is now Dam Square, the central hub of the city. They didn't move out of their building, but they did change addresses. At first in 1795 the whole Dam was rebaptized into Revolution Square, then it got the name Napoleon Square, till in 1813 after Napoleon's fall Covens & Mortier were back again at the Vijgendam.