1579 ORTELIUS MAP OF MEXICO, FROM “THE FIRST MODERN ATLAS”
ORTELIUS, Abraham. Hispaniae Novae sivae Magnae, Recens et Vera Descriptio. [Antwerp: Christopher Plantin, 1579]. Double-page atlas sheet (20 by 13-1/2 inches), matted; entire piece measures 26 by 19-1/2 inches. $1500.
Scarce Ortelius map of New Spain (showing part of Mexico), beautifully embellished with three fine strapwork cartouches and two Spanish galleons, first published in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), and later printed by Christopher Plantin in 1579. A beautiful piece with exceptional contemporary hand-coloring.
Many of Ortelius’ maps are based upon sources that no longer exist or are extremely rare. His great Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Antwerp: 1570) is considered the first true atlas in the modern sense: a collection of uniform map sheets with descriptive text bound to form a book for which copper printing plates were specifically engraved (Meurer, 10-11). Commissioned to remedy the cartographical inconveniences of “the balky ways of big [maps]… and the eyestrain a man suffered from trying to decipher the print on very small maps” (Brown, 161), the Theatrum was from the outset an encyclopedic description of the world like none before it. Unlike its predecessors, it was the first publication to recognize the symbolic equality of the Americas among the three better-known continents of Asia, Africa, and Europe, by including a fourth allegorical figure on the title page with the traditional three (Brown, 163). This wonderfully detailed map of New Spain, finely hand-colored in delicate wash and outline, with three decorative title cartouches in Latin (and with text in Latin on the verso), delineates the Pacific coast from present-day Acapulco to about Mazatlan, and inland to Mexico City. Several gold and silver mines are located in the central region. The map followed page 7 of the 1579 Antwerp Theatrum, printed by Christopher Plantin. In preparing his edition of Ortelius, Plantin bought the maps uncolored and “had them colored to his customers’ requirements by his regular illuminators” (Clair, 200). Original maps from this famous atlas are indeed rarities— of the roughly 5,875 copies published, only a few remain. Shirley I, 774. See Tooley, 29-30; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, 70-71.
Fine condition, expertly silk-backed (not affecting map surface).