Catalog Archive
Auction 196, Lot 4

Ortelius' Famous World Map - First Plate

"Typus Orbis Terrarum", Ortelius, Abraham

Subject: World

Period: 1572 (circa)

Publication: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

Color: Hand Color

19.6 x 13.4 inches
49.8 x 34 cm
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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 a short crack. This is the first state, with German text on verso, published in either 1572 or 1573.

References: Shirley #122; Van den Broecke #1.1.

Condition: B+

A nice impression on a bright sheet with a small coat of arms watermark with the initial "B." There is light soiling along the centerfold and a previous owner has added the cardinal directions in manuscript ink at the sides of the oval. There are professional repairs to a pair of small worm holes along the centerfold, a centerfold separation at bottom, and a chip at bottom center (confined to the blank margin). The side margins have been professionally extended to accommodate framing.

Estimate: $7,000 - $8,500

Sold for: $6,000

Closed on 2/7/2024