Gerard Mercator (1512 - 1594)

For nearly sixty years, during the most important and exciting period in the story of modern map making, Gerard Mercator was the supreme cartographer, his name, second only to Ptolemy, synonymous with the form of map projection still in use today. Although not the inventor of this type of projection he was the first to apply it to navigational charts in such a form that compass bearings could be plotted on charts in straight lines, thereby providing seamen with a solution to an age-old problem of navigation at sea. His influence transformed land surveying and his researches and calculations led him to break away from Ptolemy's conception of the size and outline of the Continents, drastically reducing the longitudinal length of Europe and Asia and altering the shape of the Old World as visualized in the early sixteenth century.

Mercator was born in Rupelmonde in Flanders and studied in Louvain under Gemma Frisius, Dutch writer, astronomer and mathematician. He established himself there as a cartographer and instrument and globe maker, and when he was twenty-five drew and engraved his first map (of Palestine) and went on to produce a map of Flanders (1540) supervising the surveying and completing the drafting and engraving himself. The excellence of his work brought him the patronage of Charles V for whom he constructed a globe, but in spite of his favour with the Emperor he was caught up in the persecution of Lutheran Protestants and charged with heresy, fortunately without serious consequences. No doubt the fear of further persecution influenced his move in 1552 to Duisburg, where he continued the production of maps, globes and instruments culminating in large-scale maps of Europe (1554), the British Isles (1564) and the famous World Map on 18 sheets drawn to his new projection (1569). All these early maps are exceedingly rare, some being known by only one copy.

In later life he devoted himself to his edition of the maps in Ptolemy's Geographia, reproduced in his own engraving as nearly as possible in their original form, and to the preparation of his 3-volume collection of maps to which, for the first time, the word 'Atlas' was applied. The word was chosen, he wrote, 'to honor the Titan, Atlas, King of Mauritania, a learned philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer' . The first two parts of the Atlas were published in 1585 and 1589 and the third, with the first two making a complete edition, in 1595 the year after Mercator's death.

Mercator's sons and grandsons named above, were all cartographers and made their contributions in various ways to the great atlas. Rumold, in particular, was responsible for the complete edition in 1595. After a second complete edition in 1602, the map plates were bought in 1604 by Jodocus Hondius who, with his sons, Jodocus II and Henricus, published enlarged editions which dominated the map market for the following twenty to thirty years

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1639 Hondius & Mercator Antique Map of Morea The Greek Peloponnese

1639 Hondius & Mercator Antique Map of Morea The Greek Peloponnese

This fine, beautifully hand coloured original  antique map of the Greek Peloponnese was published in the 1639 French edition of Gerardi Mercators Atlantis Novi Atlas by Jan Jansson and Henricus Hondius.

Background: The Peloponnese Peninsula had played a central role in both history and culture since Homeric times.  The large peninsula is connected to mainland Greece only by the narrow Isthmus of Corinth, and jutting deeply southwards, it lay along the crossroads of shipping in the Mediterranean and Aegean seas.  Many places still familiar today are labelled on the map, including 'Coryato' (Corinth), 'Napoli' (Nafplio), Patras and 'Cithera' (Cythera), while Athens appears in Attica, to the northeast. 
Prominenty featured in the upper part of the map is the Gulf of Lepanto in 1571, the site of an epic naval battle between the forces of the Ottoman Empire and the combined forces of various European states.  The outcome was a historical turning point, as it ensured Western maritime supremacy over the Ottomans for decades to come.  Even in 1619, almost half a century later, when the present map was printed, the Battle of Lepanto was still top of mind. (Ref: Koeman; M&B)

Condition Report:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy & stable
Paper color: - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Yellow, pink, green
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 23in x 19in (585mm x 480mm)
Plate size: - 16 1/2in x 13 1/2in (420mm x 345mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - Light age toning
Plate area: - None
Verso: - Bottom centerfold re-joined, no loss

$425.00 USD
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