Lot 282
  • 282

Mercator, Gerard.

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  • Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura. Duisburg: [Albertus Busius, 1595]
5 parts in one volume, folio (428 x 294mm.), engraved architectural title, epitaph leaf, dedication leaves to Wilhelm and Johann Wilhelm, Dukes of Jülich, Kleve and Berg (with engraved portrait of Mercator on the verso), Queen Elizabeth, and Ferdinand de Medici, 5 divisional titles, 107 engraved maps, all but one double-page, the titles, portraits and maps all coloured by a contemporary hand, contemporary red morocco gilt with the arms of pietro duodo, the covers panelled with triple gilt fillet borders with fleur-de-lys cornerpieces, the central arms surrounded by a garland of leafy sprays, spine tooled gilt in 7 compartments with fleur-de-lys motif, some green oxidised to brown, binding with gouges on lower cover and old slight stain on upper cover, rebacked and repaired by James Brockman, retaining original spine


Pietro Duodo, Venetian ambassador to Paris 1594–159, arms on binding; Mrs T.C. Conway, sale in these rooms, 8 May 1956, lot 331, £1,100, Forsythe


Koeman II, Me 13; Shirley, British Library T.MER-2c; van der Krogt 1:011B (the Wardington copy a mixture of Koeman's and van der Krogt's variants)

Catalogue Note

a fine copy of the first atlas to be so called. The first four parts had been published between 1585 and 1589 (see previous lot). To these were added a fifth and final part, Atlantis pars altera, published in 1595, a year after Mercator’s death, and overseen by his son Rumold. This part includes maps of the world and the continents. The complete atlas was dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. The whole was preceded by the famous engraved general title-page showing Atlas measuring the world with a pair of dividers. (Mercator refers to the mythical Atlas, King of Mauretania, a mathematician and philosopher who supposedly made the first celestial globe, not the Atlas whose punishment was to carry the world and heavens on his shoulders).

The present copy is further distinguished by its striking binding with the arms of Pietro Duodo, Venetian ambassador to Paris 1594–1597. It is likely that the binding was done at Rome during one of Duodo’s diplomatic missions there in 1604 and 1606.

“This was one of the first books that I ever bought and formed the cornerstone round which the rest of this collection of atlases was formed. It is a superb copy” (Wardington Catalogue).