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The Spice Islands

Johann Janssonius. "N. Visscher excudit." "Die Inseln Mollucae" "Insularum Moluccarum Nova Descriptio." Amsterdam. J. Janssonius. 1649
Copper engraved map of the Spice Islands, the Moluccas by Janssonius. from " Nouvus Atlas, Das ist: Wetbeschreibung.. " Vol 3. black & white ; German text to verso.
The map shows the "Spice" or North Maluku islands with details of the plantations and the forts of Tabillola, Mauritius, Nassau and Malayo established by the Dutch after they had expelled the Portuguese in the seventeenth century
Large decorative title cartouche supported by dolphins; scale with strapwork surround; 2 compasses roses and numerous ships and monsters to sea; 2 natives stand in the lower right corner.

The Indonesian archipelago of the Moluccas (or Maluku Islands), commonly referred to as the Spice Islands, lies on the equator north of Australia and west of New Guinea. Though there are hundreds of islands in the group (most are very small), only a handful figure prominently in the history of the European spice trade, including today's Ternate, Tidore, Moti, Makian, and Bacan—essentially the ones shown on the map. Until the 1700s, these rain-forested, luxuriant, volcanic islands were the only or best sources of such spices as cloves, nutmeg, and mace.
Arab traders introduced cloves to Europeans around the fourth century but sought to keep their sources secret. Their monopoly was broken by the Portuguese after Vasco da Gama's voyage to India around the Cape of Good Hope in 1497. The Portuguese strengthened their stranglehold on the spice trade during the sixteenth century, when they found the central locus of the spices to be these islands. One of the native traditions was to plant a clove tree when a child was born, linking the child symbolically to the life of the tree. When the Dutch took over control of the Moluccas in the seventeenth century, they eradicated the clove trees from all the islands except Amboina (and a few adjacent islands) in order to enforce the spice's scarcity, keeping prices high. As a result, cloves were worth more than their weight in gold. However the Dutch tactic also instilled hatred and fomented rebellion among the islanders. Gradually, the spice was cultivated in other places of the world, like Brazil, the West Indies, and Zanzibar, reducing prices and making the commodity more available. Good impression; lightly toned as so often with Janssonius' maps; slight show through of text from verso.

Johannes Janssonius (approx. 1588-1664)
came from a family of printers and publishers and learned the book printing trade at an early age. In 1612 he married the daughter of Jodocus Hondius and thus became a member of one of the most important publishing families in the Netherlands. During the 1630s he went into partnership with his brother-in-law Henricus Hondius and published more editions of the Mercator/Hondius atlases with the addition of the name Jansson. He grew their publishing house in the fields of geography and cartography and published newly compiled world, sea and city atlases, always competing with the Blaeu publishing house. His main works were the "Atlas Majoris Appendix" (1639), the six-volume "Atlas Novus" (1638 ff.) and the monumental "Atlas Major" comprising eleven volumes (1647).
Koeman II; Me.136A /N, [305] Van den Krogt 1; 415 392 by 505mm (15½ by 20 inches).   ref: 2549  €400

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