Catalog Archive
Auction 178, Lot 23

The First Printed Map Devoted to the Arctic in Full Contemporary Color

"Septentrionalium Terrarum Descriptio", Mercator/Hondius

Subject: North Pole

Period: 1634 (published)

Publication: Gerardi Mercatoris et I. Hondii Atlas ofte Afbeeldinghe vande Gantsche Weerldt

Color: Hand Color

15.5 x 14.5 inches
39.4 x 36.8 cm
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This influential map was the first separately printed map devoted to the Arctic. The hemisphere is surrounded by a floral design with four roundels in each corner. These contain the title, the Faeroe Isles, the Shetland Isles, and the mythical island of Frisland. The North Pole is shown according to legend as a large rock in a giant whirlpool and surrounded by four islands separated by rivers. One of the islands is noted as being inhabited by pygmies. The magnetic north is depicted as a separate island rock just outside the polar mass. In North America, there is a very early reference to California (California regio, sola fama Hispanis nota), curiously shown north of the El streto de Anian. The map depicts the attempts of Frobisher and Davis to locate the northern passages to Asia. This is the second state of the plate with updates in the region north of Russia including undefined coastlines to one of the islands surrounding the pole and Novaya Zemlya. Dutch text on verso.

References: Burden #88; Kershaw #24; Van der Krogt (Vol. I) #0020:1A.

Condition: B+

Full contemporary color that is a bit faded, with light soiling, some extraneous creasing along the centerfold, and two archivally repaired tears in the top blank margin.

Estimate: $1,600 - $1,900

Sold for: $2,300

Closed on 6/10/2020