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Johannes Blaeu

World and Four Continents Engraved Maps, The Atlas Major

Mid 17th Century

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Maps from the most expensive book published in the 17th century, The Atlas Major.

  • Sold as a set of 5.
  • Hand-colored double-page engraved maps.
  • Centerfold as issued, with cartouches for the titles and dedication.
  • Latin text on verso.
  • Framed and glazed.

A fine set of maps from the most expensive book published in the 17th century, an eleven-volume atlas containing 593 hand-colored maps. The highly decorative borders have allegorical figures of the known planets along the top, lateral borders of the Four Elements and the Four Seasons, and the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World along the bottom. Each of the continents has lateral borders of native dress and nine city prospects along the top.

Blaeu's set of the World & Continents are perhaps the most decorative and cartographically accurate of all sets published in the 17th century. Blaeu's work set the standard for other map makers during the Golden Age of Cartography, characterized by fine engraving, high-quality paper and fine geographical detail. His map of the world is one of the earliest maps to utilize the Mercator Projection, which allowed mariners in the open sea to make practical of maps. The map of the world is embellished with allegorical representations of the four seasons and four elements in the side panels, the seven wonders of the ancient world at the bottom and representations of the classical planets, moon and sun at the top. The maps of the four continents are embellished with depictions of the major cities of each continent atop the maps, and a depiction of the costumes of various indigenous people along the side panels.

Condition Report

Star iconVery Good
Like New

Not examined out of frame.

Wear consistent with age and use.


Height: 24 inches / 60.96 cm
Width: 29.5 inches / 74.93 cm


Paper, Wood, Glass



Decorative Style

Traditional Style

Country of Origin


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