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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Atlas of the Day: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Opus nunc denuo ab ipso auctore recognitum, multisque locis castigatum, & quamplurimis nouis tabulis atque commentarijs auctum. Ortelius, Abraham (1527-1598).

  • Dedication to D. Philippo Austriaco Caroli V; [A4r] - [A5r], ".benevolis lectoribus" dated 1570, "Ornitissimo." Signed by Mercator.
  • Fine numbered engraved double-page maps with contemporary hand-color and descriptive text on the rectos mounted on guards
This Latin edition of 1592 was vastly expanded from the first edition of two decades earlier and includes the appendix of historical maps known as the "Parergon" that represents Ortelius's most personal contribution to the volume.

Abraham Ortelius first published his atlas, "Theatrum orbis terrarium" in 1570, and as Rodney Shirley noted in his study of world maps, ushered in an era when "pre-eminence in map publishing was transferred from Italy to the Netherlands, leading to over a hundred years of Dutch supremacy in all facets of cartographical production." Ortelius was a true pioneer in map publishing, and his innovations brought momentous changes to the world views of contemporary Europeans. Little is known about his training and early career, but his true accomplishment, was the publication of the "Theatrum".

To compile the atlas, he drew upon his many contacts in the growing network of European cartographers to secure the best existing maps. He then had them re-engraved by the talented Flemish artist Frans Hogenberg (1535-90) such that all conformed to a standard format and graphic style, appended scholarly text to their versos, and published them as a uniform edition. The result was an atlas that was truly without precedent. Previously, collections of maps had been assembled into book form, but none conformed to the modern definition of the geographical world atlas. These earlier volumes fell into two categories. The first comprised map books made to order according to the desires and needs of an individual client ("composite atlases," sometimes called "Lafreri atlases"), and no two were alike. In contrast to Ortelius's atlas, few of these books included explanatory text, and they con.

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