Catalog Archive
Auction 130, Lot 761

"Africae Tabula Nova", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: Africa

Period: 1570 (dated)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

19.8 x 14.5 inches
50.3 x 36.8 cm
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This striking map is one of the cornerstone maps of Africa and remained the standard map of Africa well into the seventeenth century. It was designed by Ortelius from elements of contemporary maps by Gastaldi, Mercator, and Forlani and used several recent sources: Ramusio in Navigationi et Viaggi (1550), Joao de Barros in Decadas da Asia (1552), and Leo Africanus in Historiale description de l'Afrique (1556). The majority of the nomenclature is taken from Gastaldi. The Nile is based on the Ptolemaic concept, originating from two large lakes south of the equator. Curiously Ortelius did not represent the Mountains of the Moon (a prominent feature on most prior maps) and the twin lakes are not named. Ortelius introduced two important changes to the shape of the continent on this map; the Cape of Good Hope is more pointed, and the eastward extension of the continent was reduced significantly. The map is decorated with a strapwork title cartouche, a grand sea battle (copied from Diego Gutierez' wall map of the Americas), and sea monsters. This beautiful map was engraved by Frans Hogenberg who engraved many of the maps for the Theatrum. This is an early impression, published in a Latin edition, as evidenced by the presence of the ghost monster in the sea off the Arabian peninsula, and by the lack of a plate crack in the area of the title. This flaw appeared in maps printed from about 1602 onward.

References: Betz #12.6; Van de Broecke #8; Norwich #10 :Tooley (AF) p. 88.

Condition: A

Overall very good. There are old repairs on marginal fold separations and very slight toning along the fold.

Estimate: $2,400 - $3,000

Sold for: $2,400

Closed on 12/2/2009