Catalog Archive

Auction 167, Lot 36

Rare First Plate, First Edition of Ortelius' Influential Map of the New World

"Americae sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: Western Hemisphere - America

Period: 1570 (published)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

20.1 x 14.4 inches
51.1 x 36.6 cm

This is one of the most famous maps of America, and one that had enormous influence on the future cartography of the New World. Frans Hogenberg engraved this map, and it is primarily based on Gerard Mercator's great multi-sheet world map of 1569. The most recognizable features of the map are the bulbous Chilean coastline and the exaggerated breadth of the North American continent. North America shows a lengthy St. Lawrence River reaching across the continent to nearly meet the fictitious, westward flowing Tiguas Rio. The strategically placed title cartouche hides the unknown South Pacific and therefore most of the conjectural great southern continent, which is shown attached to both New Guinea and Tierra del Fuego.

This is from the uncommon first plate (second state), published in the first Latin edition of 1570. This plate had a relatively short life and was published only between 1570 and 1575.

References: Burden #39.2; Goss (NA) #11; Van den Broecke #9.2.

Condition: A

A nice impression with the crossed arrows watermark commonly found on Ortelius maps. There is a professionally repaired centerfold separation that enters less than 0.5" into map at bottom, as well as light soiling in the blank margins and minor toning confined to the edges of the sheet.

Estimate: $5,500 - $7,000

Sold for: $4,500

Closed on 3/28/2018