By: Jacobus Hondius
Date: 1633 (circa) Amsterdam
Dimensions: 15 x 21.4 inches ( 38 x 54.4 cm)
This superb Hondius map is one of the most famous and sought after of all 17th century double-hemisphere maps.
The map is of paramount importance in the history of cartography. Published to replace the important earlier world map by Henricus Hondius, Jacobus’ father, it follows closely John Speed’s 1627 double hemisphere, which was one of the earliest published maps to show California as an island.
Farther north in North America, a massive western landmass identified as Nova Albion (New England) is shown, with Cape Mendocino reaching within a few hundred miles of Japan. In the Sea of Cortez, a curious double set of rivers empties out of the Southwest, with an unnamed Rio Grande draining incorrectly into the Sea of Cortez, rather than the Gulf of Mexico.
California’s depiction as an island was based on the myth created from an account of Sebastion Vizcaino’s 1602 expedition to explore the California coast. The myth endured till the early 18th century, when cartographers began to render it as a peninsula attached to the continent. Interestingly, the coastal area to the northeast of the island is left blank and borderless, leaving open the possibility of the long-sought Northwest Passage.
A primitive conception of the Mississippi River is present, but no sign of the Great Lakes. Virginia is prominently named and to the north, the newly discovered regions reached by Henry Hudson are identified with his name.
South America had been explored for well over a century by the time this map was published, and its topography is rendered in detail. The coasts of the continent include river tributaries, ports, settlements and cities, and the Straits of Le Maire now appear, although Hondius still hints at a narrow channel between Terra Australis and Tierra del Fuego.
The enormous southern continent called Terra Australis Incognita is depicted. Korea here is called an Isthmus rather than an island, and there is an impressive early representation of the Philippines below. In addition to its cartographic importance, this is one of the most beautiful decorative maps of its era.
A lovely ornate border sets off embellishments which include portraits of Julius Caesar, who was said to have sent four surveyors with the intent of charting the known world; Claudius Ptolemy, the father of geography; Gerard Mercator, whose seminal work made him a leading figure of The Flemish golden age of cartography; and Jodocus Hondius, father of Henricus, and founder of the great Hondius publishing house. Alongside each portrait allegorical figures are depicted representing the four elements. At the center of the border are depictions of the Sun and Moon, a celestial globe, and a vignette of the nations paying homage to Europa. Frigates flying various flags ply the seas along with whales and other sea creatures.
Originally published in 1630, this example is from the first publication of it in German, featuring Latin on the face and German on the verso, thus identifying it as having been issued in 1633.
Condition: This splendid hand colored map is in A condition. Separations and thinning in places have been reinforced with archival materials on the verso.
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