A HANDSOME SET OF BRAUN AND HOGENBERG'S EARLY TOWN BOOKS. THE FIRST COMPREHENSIVE COLLECTION OF TOWN VIEWS GATHERED IN ATLAS FORM.
Many of the city views had not been seen before. Furthermore it is a great anthropological and geographical source for information about the 16th century. "The Civitates orbis terrarum
or the 'Braun & Hogenberg' is the most famous of the early town atlases. The Civitates
was, like Ortelius' Theatrum
, one of the best-selling works in the last quarter of the 16th century. Although it had no comparable predecessor, it immediately answered a great public demand because social, political and economic life at that time was concentrated in cities. Apart from that the pictorial style of the plans and views appealed very much to the uneducated public" (Van der Krogt). It is likely that the volumes were actually intended for the educated reader, as there are far more editions in Latin than in German and French. The Civitates
was published in Cologne from 1572 until 1617.
The volumes are uniformly bound in brown calf with "Civitates orbis terrarium" stamped on the front plate and an allegorical scene on the back with Latin proverb "Quod tibi fieri non vis aleteri ne feceris". These bindings appear to be the standard Civitates bindings provided by Hogenberg in Cologne. The Bavarian State Library has two copies of the Civitates (1581, 2 Mapp. 41-3; 1593, 2 Mapp. 50-3), each with the same centre- and corner-pieces and with dates stamped on spines.