Catalog Archive
Auction 183, Lot 7

Ortelius' Famous World Map - First Plate

"Typus Orbis Terrarum", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: World

Period: 1581 (published)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

Size:
19.6 x 13.3 inches
49.8 x 33.8 cm

This is the first (of three) world maps that was included in Ortelius' famous atlas. It is a simplified reduction of Mercator's influential map of 1569 presented on an oval projection rather than the projection for which Mercator is now famous. From surviving correspondence, it is known that Mercator encouraged Ortelius and provided him with information, particularly with coordinates of places in the Americas. Placed on a cloud background, the map shows North America as much too wide and South America retains the unusual bulged southwestern coastline. At the poles, a prominent Northwest Passage snakes its way south of the four islands making up the arctic regions, and a huge Terra Australis Nondum Cognita makes up the imaginary southern continent. A notation next to New Guinea notes that it is unknown if this large island is a part of the southern continent. The title is in a strapwork banner at top, which is balanced with a quotation from Cicero at bottom. This superb map was engraved by Frans Hogenberg with his signature at bottom. The plate was used for the first 16 editions of the Theatrum. A crack developed in the lower left corner from 1570 onward. This example shows evidence of that crack along with small bolt impressions. French text on verso.

References: Shirley #122; Van den Broecke #1.4.

Condition: A

A sharp impression on a bright sheet with a few minute worm holes in the image, some extraneous creasing adjacent to the centerfold, and marginal soiling. There are a couple of minor repairs along the centerfold in the blank margins.

Estimate: $7,000 - $8,500

Sold for: $6,000

Closed on 6/9/2021

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