First State of De Wit's Stunning Double-Hemisphere Map
"Nova Orbis Tabula, in Lucem Edita", Wit, Frederick de
Period: 1670 (circa)
Color: Hand Color
21.9 x 18.4 inches
55.6 x 46.7 cm
This is one of the most attractive double-hemispherical world maps of the late seventeenth century. The corners are filled with images of the seasons, the zodiac, and the elements, all combined within four well-composed vignettes. At top left is a personification of Spring, who also represents Virgo, with the element of Air billowing her robes. The bull of Taurus and the ram of Aries are shown to the right. The top right vignette represents Summer, with the shore in the background illustrating the element Water. A putti holds a crab representing Cancer, and another holds the lion of Leo. The twins of Gemini flank the inset of the North Pole at top. The lower left scene presents Autumn and Earth with a wine-imbibing Bacchus and a scene of drunkenness. The signs for Scorpio and Libra are held by two followers, while Sagittarius gallops in the background. Winter holds court in the final vignette, with the element of Fire shown to the left. Aquarius is represented by a child pouring water into a basin. A group of raucous children in the background hold a goat representing Capricorn and a fishing pole with the double fish of Pisces.
In North America, the Great Lakes appear as one large semi-circle with an open western end, and the island of California is shown on the Briggs model with a flat northern coast, and a portion of Anian appears in the Pacific Northwest. South America has the mythical L. Parime astride the equator, with the imaginary golden city of Manoa on its shores. Asia displays a Japan with an oversized Iedso (Hokkaido) shown on the map of the Western Hemisphere. A partial coastline for Australia is shown, and both New Zealand and Tasmania are indicated by only one stretch of coastline. The inset of the North Pole shows Hudson Bay with two southern bays, and the inset of the South Pole is nearly blank save for the very tip of South America and Tierra del Fuego. This is the first state of the plate without cherubs in the cusps and no outside border.
References: Shirley #451.
A sharp impression with minor soiling in the south polar projection and professional repairs to several small tears and chips confined to the blank margins.