MONUMENTS OF ATLAS CARTOGRAPHY
11 volumes bound in 12, folio (527 x 321mm.), 6 engraved allegorical frontispieces, 8 engraved architectural or armorial frontispieces without the letter-press text labels (that in volume III dated 1681 and in volume VI dated 1654), 11 (of 12) printed titles with engraved vignettes and 10 divisional half-titles, 589 engraved maps, plans, views, and plates, mostly double-page (some folding, full-page or within text), including 9 plates of Tycho Brahe's astronomical observatory (one with his portrait) in volume one, views of Stonehenge and Avebury in volume 5, 7 plates of the Escorial in volume 9, coloured throughout in a contemporary hand, frontispieces, maps, cities and embellishments heightened in gold, printed index leaf at the end of each volume, recent white vellum gilt by George Plummer in the style of an original Dutch binding, gilt edges
The whole housed in a maple, burr, fruitwood and marquetry bespoke cabinet by Colombo Mobili, Milan, the marquetry panel on top incorporating various veneers including walnut, sycamore, ash and calamander.
The Society of Writers to Her Majesty's Signet, Signet Library, sale in these rooms, 27 June 1960, lot 1510; Lord Wardington, sale in these rooms, lot 55, 18 October 2005, bookplate
Koeman, II, Bl 56, 49, & 60A; van der Krogt 2:602.1, 601.2-8, 641.9, 601.9b 601.10-11; cf. Shirley, British Library T.Bla-1o
The Wardington copy
"The contents of this unprecedented atlas illustrate the high standards of contemporary cartography and geographical knowledge, and its presentation bears witness to the superb craftsmanship of engraver, printer, binder and papermaker... The costly atlas was in fact exclusively designed for those members of the patriciate who could command both the material and intellectual resources that were needed to buy it and appreciate it" (Koeman II, pp.1-3).
Some 300 sets are believed to have been published, many of which were presented throughout Europe as a tangible symbol of the Republic of the United Netherlands.
This is a late mixed edition of Blaeu's Atlas major. It differs slightly from the second edition which has the date 1665 on the title of the first volume, as indeed this copy has, but all the signatures in this copy differ slightly: volume 9 (part 1) has the text in Spanish dated as usual 1672. The frontispiece in volume 3 (Germany) has the date 1681.
"It could be possible that this set was rather haphazardly put together after the fire [at Blaeu's workshop in 1673, which destroyed much of his stock], but the colouring is so fine and the number of frontispieces is more than usual and the Library of Congress copy (4263) seems to be similar. Perhaps even as late as 1681, an issue of this extremely popular and important atlas was made (third edition?)" (Wardington Catalogue).
Van der Krogt states that "very late issues of the Atlas Maior are also characterized by the replacement of Blaeu's maps of the continents Asia, Africa and America, by the Visscher maps of these continents, with Blaeu's original text on verso... When the stock of a particular map was depleted, a new copy of it was created in the following way to assemble a new Latin edition of the Atlas maior. A sheet with Latin text and a blank verso was used. Onto the blank side of this sheet was pasted down a map from another language edition... Sometimes, a map by another publisher is pasted on''.
This atlas collates as follows:
Volume I. World, Europe and Scandinavia. 1665, 60 (of 61) maps and plates, including 5 plans and 9 plates of Tycho Brahe's astronomical observatory on the island of Hven in the Danish Sound (after the woodcuts of Brahe's Astronomia instauratae mechanica (Wandsbeck, 1598), where Joannes Blaeu's father was assistant and student for a time). The maps of Slesvig are part of the series originally published in Caspar Danckwerth and Johannes Mejer's New Landesbeschriebung der zweij Herzogthümer Schleswig und Holstein, 1652. The world map which begins the atlas is the twin-hemispherical type introduced in the first edition of the Atlas major in 1662. The map of Europe replaced by general map by Visscher, lacking map 47 "(Praefecturae) Tonderanae", map 53 ("Accuratissima Sliae fluminis") shaved at outer edges, some marginal staining (more so at end of volume)
Volume II. Northern and Eastern Europe. 1662, 39 maps and plans, including plans of Moscow and the Kremlin. Some light staining at centre
Volume III. Germany. 1662, 96 maps, including the remainder of the Danckwerth and Mejer series collected in vol. I. Maps 39 and 41 are by De Wit ("Inferioris Saxoniae circulus" and "Nova & accurate ducatum Schlesvici et Holsatiae tabula"), map 55 (Bremen) is by Visscher and map 78 ("Hassia superior et Moguntinus Archiepiscopatus") is replaced by Moguntini by De Wit, all maps mounted
Volume IV. Netherlands. 1662, 63 maps, including several from Sanderus's Flandria illustrata (first published in 1641). Lacking the 6 mentioned in the index, as usual, some light staining
Volume V. England and Wales. 1662, 58 maps and 3 views (unusually the woodcuts and engraved vignettes depicting antiquities throughout the text are coloured). Occasional light browning, small marginal rust-hole in map of Staffordshire, but a good clean copy
Volume VI. Scotland and Ireland. 1662, 55 maps, chiefly after the surveys of Robert Gordon and Timothy Pont. The two maps of Galloway are torn at the outer edge and the map of Teviotdale has a small hole, text of Orkney and Shetland very browned (may come from another copy)
Volume VII. France and Switzerland. 1662, 66 (of 70) maps, additional map of the Gulf of Lyons, but lacking 5 maps: 18, 46, 50, 55 and 64 ("Episcopatus Albiensis", "Diocesis Ebroicensis", "La Bresse Chalonnoise", "Sabaudia ducatus"), 18 and 55 not called for in index and often not present, without general title, some staining and soiling
Volume VIII. Italy. 1662, 60 maps. A clean and crisp copy
Volume IX, Part 2. Spain and Portugal. 1672, 28 maps and plates including the fine series of 8 plates showing plans and views of the Escorial in honour of Philip II. This volume has text in Spanish and is the first edition of the ninth volume of the Spanish Atlas mayor. Lacks map 24 (Catalonia), map 8 (Escurial) is 2 single-page plates (whereas in the Latin text edition it is double-page), lacking all the preliminaries, but these appear in volume XI
Volume IX, Part 2. Africa. 1662, 13 maps. The general map is replaced by a general map by Visscher, some marginal spotting or soiling
Volume X. Asia. 1662, 28 maps, including the 17 maps of China and Japan after Fr. Martino Martini. Text and frontispiece misbound, title and preliminaries slightly spotted, plates clean, text slightly browned, otherwise a fine and clean copy. General map of Asia replaced by a map by Carol Allard, and the second map of Turcicum imperium is by Nicolas Visscher
Volume XI. America. 1662, 23 maps, the Brazilian maps originally published by Blaeu in Barlaeus' Rerum Octennium in Brasilia, 1647, show the fine vignettes after Frans Post. The general map is replaced by a map by Nicolas Visscher
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