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The Carribbean.

Blaeu, Guillaume & Jean. Insulæ Americanæ, in Oceano Septemtrionali, Ante sinum Mexicanum, & aliquot Continentis regiones. "Insulæ Americanæ, in Oceano Septemtrionali cum Terris adiacentibus." Amsterdam Apud Johannem Guiljelmi F. Blaeu. c1655
Original coloured, copper engraved map of the Caribbean from volume 2 of Joan Blaeu's "Theatrum Orbis terrarum, sive atlas novus .pars secunda." Double page; folio; Latin text to verso.
Large strap work title cartouche and scale: dedication cartouche surmounted by coat of arms; ships and compass roses to sea.

Blaeu's chart of the Caribbean, based on a section of Blaeu's own West Indische Paskaert (ca. 1630) and Hessel Gerritsz' rare chart of 1631. The chart was the most accurate for its time and was used throughout the seventeenth century.

The chart covers practically the same area as the Gerritsz chart, but adds the west coast of Central America and the South Sea ( Mare del Zur). Although this western coast is shown on the chart, there are no place names there. Every other coast is detailed in its toponyms, reflecting the advanced nature of European colonialism in the mid-seventeenth century. The place names in Florida and what is now the US Gulf Coast are mostly Spanish in origin, suggesting the use of a hard-to-get Spanish chart for that section.

The place names along the coast of eastern North America are practically identical to the Gerritsz chart, other than the important addition of Virginia here. According to Burden, Blaeu also accurately shows the distance between Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound to be only 1°, whereas many contemporaries show them a further distance from each other.

The coastlines are colored decoratively, not to reflect political boundaries. The map is embellished with several other aesthetic details that make it distinctive to other charts of the area based on Gerritsz. A delicate scrolling script and rhumb lines fill the seas, as do five ships in full sail. The ships underline the region's importance to Europeans; it was a major center for trade, resources, and a site for forced labor. Bright original outline colour; good impression; light damp stain and toning to edges of blank margins.

Willem Janszoon Blaeu [1571- 1668] had set up the business in Amsterdam 1596 following studies with the famous astonomer Tycho Brahe.
In 1630 Willhem published his first atlas "Atlas Appendix", having published maritime cartography, books, charts and pilot guides for previous thirty years.
Appointed Hydrographer of the V. O. C. ( United East India Company)in 1633 he died in 1638. leaving the company to his sons Joan and Cornelius
Of Cornelius little is know; his name appearing on in the prefaces of books and atlases only until c1645.

Dr Joan Blaeu [ 1596-1673] who had studied at Leiden took over the management of the business and established its fame. He was also appointed Hydrographer to the V. O. C. ( 1638), but his interests leant more to geography than maritime cartography. His aim was" a full description of heaven, earth and water" ( Koeman) which was unachievable. but his work produced the magnificent "Atlas Major" and the Town books of the Netherlands and Italy; works unsurpassed in history and modern times.

The "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum " or "Atlas Novus" Willem Blaeu's great project enlarging the "Appendix" was advertised in 1634, was first published in a preliminary edition in 1635. (preface dated 10-3-1634) two volumes.
The final edition comprising again two volumes with 109 & 99 maps respectively with German text also published 1635; an edition with Dutch text, (preface dated 22-4-1635) 104 & 103 maps; French text( preface dated 1-7-1635) 105 & 103 maps; and with Latin text (preface dated "ipsis Aprillis")105 & 102 maps.

In 1640, after Willem's death a Third volume with French text and comprising 58 maps of Italy and 8 of Greece, was published; later the same year an edition was produced with Latin text.
Still in 1640, variant editions in both languages were issued with an appendix of 4 maps of the British Isles as a precursor to the Fourth volume, which would be a complete description thereof.

In 1645 the Fourth volume, "Le Theatre du Monde ou Nouvel Atlas, Mis en lumiere par Guillaume et Jean Bleau. Quartiesme Partie." with a dedication to " A la serinissme Princesse Henriette-Marie Reine de la Grande Bretagne, France & Yrlande." was published; preface dated 1 October 1645.
This volume consisted of 58 maps with description of all the British Isles.

The "Atlas Novus" was eventually extended to six volumes with the addition of a fifth volume, Scotland in 1654 and the following year a sixth the "Atlas Sinensis"of Martini.

Joan Blaeu recognised that the wealthy patrons who would buy such an atlas were primarily concerned with display, thus aesthetic considerations were emphasised: the quality of the paper, binding, beautiful typography and bright colour, making maps from the Blaeu printing house amongst the most decorative of their time.

Blaeu eventually updated and extended the "Theatrum" producing the "Atlas Major" in various formats from 9-12 volumes
Koeman1, Bl 24C. 383 by 526mm (15 by 20¾ inches).   ref: 3117  €1300

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