Koeman II, ME 27A
As well as being the greatest name in sixteenth-century map-making, Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), along with Ptolemy, is arguably the most important cartographer of all time. Indeed, his friend Abraham Ortelius described Mercator as "the Ptolemy of the age".
The present volume is the result of Mercator's project for a complete and original description of the creation, the heavens, earth and sea, as well as a world history. Koeman notes that "contrary to the maps in Ortelius's Theatrum orbis terrarum, Antwerp 1570, Mercator's maps are original... [He] checked the current knowledge of the configuration of the earth's topography against its fundamental sources and drew new maps in his original conception. This method of map-making took more time than it would have by mere copying. But he had not the intention to compete with Ortelius's best-selling atlas" (Koeman II, p.282). Ultimately, the labour of creating these maps took its toll on Mercator, who did not live to see the atlas completed; the work was finally finished by his son Rumold.
Mercator's work won its proper fame when Jodocus Hondius bought the copper printing plates from the cartographer's heirs in 1604. In 1606 the first Amsterdam edition of the Mercator Atlas appeared. From then to 1638, the atlas saw many enlarged editions in various languages.
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