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1659 Insula Quae a Ioanne Mayen Nomen Sortita Est.

1659 Insula Quae a Ioanne Mayen Nomen Sortita Est.

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By: Johannes Blaeu

Date: 1659 (undated) Amsterdam

Dimensions: 17 x 21.5 inches (43.2 x 54.6 cm)

This remarkable map by Johannes Blaeu depicts the island of Jan Mayen, upon which is located the northernmost volcano on planet Earth, Beerenberg. It is a small island in the North Atlantic approximately 350 miles to the east of Greenland and Iceland, and 620 to the west of Norway, on the mid-Atlantic ridge. Terrain of the island and its volcano is shown in great detail, and landmarks of the environs are named, such as rock formations offshore which resemble the sails of a ship. The Dutch presence on the island, though short-lived, is detailed for perpetuity in this map. Boilers built for extracting oil from whale blubber are depicted and a small cemetery is visible to the west of Beerenberg. Safe anchorages are denoted, along with depth soundings in many places

Though legend has it that it was discovered by an Irish monk in the sixth century, and that the Vikings also visited, to date, no evidence has been found to support these claims. However, the monk reported that on one of his voyages he had come close to a black island which was on fire, and that great noise was generated by it. He concluded that he had found the entrance to hell. Thus, it is possible that Brendan, the Irish monk, did indeed sail close to the island.

Documented discovery of the island took place early in the 17th century when Dutch and English whalers sailed there in search of whaling grounds. The island was first surveyed in the first decades of the 17th century at which time there were found to be no indigenous peoples on the island. Its location was convenient for the whaling industry, and the Dutch soon constructed boilers for whale blubber, and when whaling was at its peak there were often more than 1,000 men based there during the summer months. Small though the population was, fortification was constructed to protect the industrial bases from being plundered. The industry was rapacious and within a few decades whaling in the area came to an end, as the whale population had been decimated. The island was completely deserted by mid-seventeenth century, and would only be visited again more than 200 years later.

Norway became interested in Jan Mayen in the early decades of the 20th century as a weather station, and by 1921 the first meteorological post on the island had been established. Weather reports from the island were important for predicting weather in Scandinavia and in 1922 the island was annexed by Norway. In 1930 it was declared part of the Kingdom of Norway.

The map is embellished with two decorative cartouches featuring whalers and their weaponry, with the heads of whales to signify their trade, and two compass roses. Latin text on the verso describes the island in some detail.

Condition: This map is in B+ condition with slight discoloration of the centerfold. Toning is mainly confined to the margins. There is a wrinkle in the lower right quadrant which could be smoothed by professional restoration.

Inventory #12375

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