Catalog Archive
Auction 138, Lot 771

Ortelius' Influential Map of Japan

"Iaponiae Insulae Descriptio", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: Japan & Korea

Period: 1595 (dated)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

19 x 14 inches
48.3 x 35.6 cm

This landmark map was the first map of Japan published in a European atlas. Ortelius received the map from Ludovico Teixeira, a Portuguese Jesuit cartographer and mathematician. While Teixeira had not personally traveled to Japan, he obviously had access to Japanese sources as the map presents the first reasonably accurate and recognizable depiction of the island nation with numerous Japanese place names. Korea appears as an island tapering to a point labeled Punta dos ladrones. The map is elegantly embellished with three large galleons, two elaborate cartouches and a boldly engraved border. This influential map was to become the basis for many other cartographers' maps of Japan for more than fifty years. This is the first state with Latin text on verso, published between 1595-1609.

References: Walter OAG #5, plt. 19; Van den Broecke #165.

Condition: A

Insignificant soiling in wide, blank margins and a minute pinhole near Hizu only visible when held to light.

Estimate: $3,750 - $4,500


Closed on 12/7/2011