Historic Map, Art meets cartography, 1621 Map of South America and North America, Ameria nova Tabula; Nieuwe kaart van Amerika - Willem Blaeu

In 1631, he published his inaugural atlas, comprising approximately 60 maps accompanied by detailed texts. Among these maps, 13 had previously been issued by Blaeu, while the atlas itself was bolstered by an additional 37 copper plates acquired from Jodocus Hondius in 1629. Initially dubbed the “Appendix,” this work was conceived as a supplement to the well-established atlases of Ortelius and Mercator. Within a year, it had expanded into two parts, boasting a total of 99 maps, and underwent further expansion and revision over subsequent years.

Reproduction of 1621 Map of South and North America
Reproduction of 1621 Map of South and North America

This publication marked the onset of intense rivalry between Blaeu’s firm and that of Hondius/Janssonius. The latter promptly began reproducing maps acquired from Jodocus II, incorporating them into their editions of the famed Mercator-Hondius atlases, thus initiating a trend of mutual replication. In 1634, the atlas was rechristened “Theatrum Orbis Terrarum” (Theatre of the World), a deliberate nod to Ortelius’ seminal atlas of 1570. The first single-volume edition was in German and encompassed 159 maps, eliminating the need for an appendix and solidifying its status as a comprehensive atlas. Subsequent translations into Dutch, French, and Latin ensued, resulting in a renewed division into two parts, boasting approximately 208 maps. This expansive atlas underwent further augmentation and reinvigoration, evolving into an ever-expanding multi-part compilation.

History, Art, Map, Vintage, Exploration, cartography, USA, Colonial, Willem Blaeu, Early Map, Western Hemisphere,

Following Willem Jansz.’s demise, the atlas continued to evolve, eventually becoming known as the Atlas Maior, Grooten Atlas, or Geographiae Blavianae. Throughout the 17th century, it burgeoned into one of cartography’s most expansive and opulent publications. Editions are documented comprising up to 14 distinct volumes and containing around 600 maps, solidifying its reputation as a magnum opus of cartographic achievement.

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Historic Map, Art meets cartography, 1621 Map of South America and North America, Ameria nova Tabula; Nieuwe kaart van Amerika – Willem Blaeu