Auction 139, Lot 768

Magnificent Limited Facsimile Edition of Blaeu's Atlas Maior - Previously Owned by R.A. Skelton

"[Lot of 12] The Third Centenary Edition of Johan Blaeu Le Grand Atlas ou Cosmographie Blaviane", Blaeu, Johannes

Subject: Atlases

Period: 1967-70 (published)


Color: Printed Color

13 x 22.5 inches
33 x 57.2 cm

This impressive limited facsimile edition of the 1663 first French edition of Blaeu’s Atlas Maior contains 600 large folio maps, a number in color. This specific set was a gift given to R.A. Skelton, and is accompanied by the original letter sent to Skelton and signed by Marinus Beck, the managing director of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum publishing company. This set is number III of V copies that were given to individuals and libraries to thank them for their assistance in making the facsimile edition possible. A total of 1000 copies of this set were published.

Johannes Blaeu first published this masterpiece in Latin in 1662, and significantly expanded the text for his French edition of 1663. Blaeu's Atlas Maior, was the largest and most comprehensive atlas ever published, with a wealth of information on local history, customs, trades and commerce. The atlas was prized by the wealthy, with special copies made for statesmen and royalty, colored and bound to order.

This facsimile edition was reproduced from original sets belonging to the Amsterdam and Leiden University Libraries. The colored maps and plates were reproduced after the hand-colored copy presented by Blaeu himself to Colbert, Minister to King Louis XIV of France. This set also includes an advertisement for the facsimile edition as well as a facsimile of Blaeu's magnificent carte-a-figures map of the world, in color, laid into Volume I, as issued. This map, which appeared in earlier editions of Blaeu’s Atlas, was added to the 12 volumes as it forms a set with the colored maps of the Continents in volumes I, X, XI and XII.

Twelve volumes, with over 4000 pages of text and 600 maps, mostly double-page. All the frontispieces, some of Tycho Brahe's astronomical plates, and 32 maps are reproduced in color. Maps are attached with guards to enable flat opening. Tall folio, original simile-vellum full leather with Blaeu's elaborate gilt design on covers and spine, and blue morocco spine labels with gilt titling. This remarkable set would make an impressive addition to any map collector's library.

This set weighs over 140 lbs. - please call or email for a shipping quote prior to placing your bid.


Condition: B+

Text and maps are in fine condition, with occasional small spots on fore-edge. Covers show light wear with bumped corners and occasional spots of paint splatter. Spines have small spots of brown paint splatter, with bumped heads and tails, and light wear of title labels. Skelton letter is watermarked with marginal soiling. Advertisement shows light wear.

Estimate: $3,250 - $4,000


Closed on 2/15/2012