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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1607 Mercator Hondius Original Antique Map of Ireland - Rare and beautiful

1607 Mercator Hondius Original Antique Map of Ireland - Rare and beautiful

This fine beautifully hand coloured original antique map of Ireland by Gerald Mercator was published by Rumold Mercator & Jodocus Hondius in the very early 1607 Latin edition of Mercators Atlas.

This map is magnificent with beautiful original hand colouring. Original colouring such as this is scarce and hard to find.
These maps, published in the early editions of Mercators atlas, are the original maps drawn and engraved by Gerald Mercator in the mid to late 16th century, published by his sons Rumold & Henricus as an atlas, after his death, in 1595. After two editions the plates were purchased by Jodocus Hondius in 1604 and  continued to be published until the mid 1630's when the plates were re-engraved and updated by Jan Jansson and Henricus Hondius.

The earliest maps of Ireland up to the year 1500 or so share the shortcomings of those of the rest of the British Isles especially as represented on world maps. It was not to be expected that lands literally on the very edge of the known world could be depicted with any accuracy; very often one feels that the cartographers or engravers placed the islands in the nearest available space consistent with their imagined position. Even in the first printed Ptolemaic map there is still much distortion in Ireland's shape and geographical position but, on the other hand, a quite surprising number of place names and other details are shown, as many, in fact, as in the rest of Britain put together. This detailed knowledge is not as puzzling as it might appear, for the Ptolemy maps, at least the later editions from 1513 onwards, were based on Italian portulan charts and these, in turn, reflected knowledge gained during the long commercial relationship which had existed between Italy and Ireland ever since the thirteenth century. The distortions on land-surveyed maps remained uncorrected until late in the seventeenth century but a quite accurate coastal outline was given in the marine atlases of Waghenaer, Dudley, Blaeu and later Dutch chart makers.

Apart from a few manuscript maps and very rare maps printed in Rome and Venice (George Lily, 1546, and others in the period 1560-66) Ireland is shown on Mercator's large map of the British Isles (1564), and in his Atlas (1595) and as a separate sheet in the Ortelius atlases (from 1 573). The most important map, however, was compiled by an Italian, Baptista Boazio, probably in the 1 5 8os. This has survived in manuscript form and may have been used by Pieter van der Keere for a map published by Jodocus Hondius in 1591. Boazio's map was subsequently published by John Sudbury, who later sold Speed's maps, and this version was included in editions of the Ortelius atlases from 6oz onwards. The Boazio map is a quite splendid map, very decorative, some copies even showing an Eskimo complete with kayak and hunting spear. Thereafter the trend is familiar: Camden, Speed, Blaeu, Jansson, Sanson and others of the Dutch and French schools all included a general map or maps of the Irish provinces in their atlases. Speed's map of the whole of Ireland was based at least partly on surveys by Robert Lythe (c.1570) and Francis Jobson(c.1590) and included figures in national costume; it was for long regarded as the best map available and was much copied by publishers in other countries.

In 1685 the first atlas of Ireland to match Saxton's At/as of Eng/andand Wales was published by Sir William Petty as Hiberniae Detineaho, the result of a highly organized and detailed survey (the 'Down' survey) carried out in the years following 1655. Re-issued in miniature form soon afterwards by Francis Lamb, Petty's Atlas was widely used as the basis for practically all maps of Ireland produced by English, French, Dutch and German publishers in the following century. Apart from re-issues of Petty's Atlas and its many copyists there were maps by George Grierson, a Dublin publisher, John Rocque, the Huguenot surveyor and engraver who spent some years in Dublin, and Bernard Scale, Rocque's brother-in-law. 

Towards the end of the century many large-scale maps were published but, as in England, private mapping was gradually overtaken and eventually replaced by the Ordnance Survey maps produced between the years 1824 and 1846.(Ref: Koeman, Tooley)

Condition Report:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color: - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Yellow, red, green, purple, blue
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 20in x 18in (560mm x 430mm)
Plate size: - 17 1/2in x 14in (420mm x 330mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - Light age toning to margins
Plate area: - Old professional repair to 45mm sq to left side
Verso: - Old professional repair to text "H"

$1,250.00 USD
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