Catalog Archive
Auction 153, Lot 434

Unrecorded State of Ortelius' Map of the Arctic with Mythical Islands

"Septentrionalium Regionum Descrip.", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: Arctic & Scandinavia

Period: 1570 (published)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

19.4 x 14.3 inches
49.3 x 36.3 cm
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Ortelius based this influential map on the work of earlier authorities including Mercator, Zeno and Magnus. Of particular interest are the mythical islands of Brasil, Frisland, Drogeo, Icaria, and St. Brendan. Part of Mercator's imaginary polar continent is depicted with a Latin note that it is inhabited by pygmies. Iceland (Islant, Thule) is basically unchanged from Mercator´s map of Europe from 1554 with the shape originated by Zeno. Greenland is separated from Europe by a wide sea and a portion of North America appears in the upper left corner with the name Estotilant. The map is adorned with a variety of very inventive creatures including a half-man, half-sea creature playing a lute.

This is an unrecorded state, between states 1 and 2 according to Van den Broecke. Similar to the first state, the dot over the second "i" in Liuoniae is missing, and Narva is misspelled as Narna. However it appears that the second "n" in Narna fl. has already been partially converted into a "u." Like the second state, a triangular dot has been added to the end of the title. Latin text on verso, with signature 45.

References: Van den Broecke #160; Ginsberg #24; Burden #40.

Condition: B

A fine, dark impression with attractive color. There are a number of tears in the image (ranging from less than an inch up to 3 inches) that have been expertly and almost invisibly repaired. A long centerfold separation has also been professionally repaired, with a few small areas of loss along the centerfold skillfully replaced in facsimile. The map has been backed in Japanese tissue to provide support.

Estimate: $1,500 - $1,800

Sold for: $900

Closed on 5/20/2015