Willem Blaeu (1571 - 1638)                                              Joan Blaeu 1596-1673

Profile :
At the beginning of the seventeenth century Amsterdam was becoming one of the wealthiest trading cities in Europe, the base of the Dutch East India Company and a center of banking and the diamond trade, its people noted for their intellectual skills and splendid craftsmanship.

At this propitious time in the history of the Northern Provinces, Willem Janszoon Blaeu, who was born at Alkmaar in 1571 and trained in astronomy and the sciences by Tycho Brahe, the celebrated Danish astronomer, founded a business in Amsterdam in 1599 as a globe and instrument maker. It was not long before the business expanded, publishing maps, topographical works and books of sea charts as well as constructing globes. His most notable early work was a map of Holland (1604), a fine World Map (1605-06) and Het Licht der Zeevaerdt (The Light of Navigation), a marine atlas, which went through many editions in different languages and under a variety of titles. At the same time Blaeu was planning a major atlas intended to include the most up-to-date maps of the whole of the known world but progress on so vast a project was slow and not until he bought between 30 and 40 plates of the Mercator Atlas from Jodocus Hondius II to add to his own collection was he able to publish, in 1630, a 60-map volume with the title Atlantis Appendix. It was another five years before the first two volumes of his planned world atlas, Atlas Novus or the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum were issued. About this time he was appointed Hydrographer to the East India Company.

In 1638 Blaeu died and the business passed into the hands of his sons, Joan and Cornelis, who continued and expanded their father's ambitious plans. After the death of Cornelis, Joan directed the work alone and the whole series of 6 volumes was eventually completed about 1655. As soon as it was finished he began the preparation of the even larger work, the Atlas Major, which reached publication in 1662 in II volumes (later editions in 9-12 volumes) and contained nearly 6oo double-page maps and 3,000 pages of text. This was, and indeed remains, the most magnificent work of its kind ever produced; perhaps its geographical content was not as up-to-date or as accurate as its author could have wished, but any deficiencies in that direction were more than compensated for by the fine engraving and colouring, the elaborate cartouches and pictorial and heraldic detail and especially the splendid calligraphy.

In 1672 a disastrous fire destroyed Blaeu's printing house in the Gravenstraat and a year afterwards Joan Blaeu died. The firm's surviving stocks of plates and maps were gradually dispersed, some of the plates being bought by F. de Wit and Schenk and Valck, before final closure in about 1695.
It ought to be mentioned here that there is often confusion between the elder Blaeu and his rival Jan J ansson (Johannes Janssonius). Up to about 1619 Blaeu often signed his works Guilielmus Janssonius or Willems Jans Zoon but after that time he seems to have decided on Guilielmus or G. Blaeu.

Willem & Joan Blaeu (1)

Sort by:
1662 Joan Blaeu Complete Set of 9 Antique Maps of North America from Atlas Major, 1st Edition

1662 Joan Blaeu Complete Set of 9 Antique Maps of North America from Atlas Major, 1st Edition

  • Titles: 
    1. Extrema Americae....Terra Nova Francia;
    2. Nova Belgica Et Anglia Nova;
    3. Nova Virginiae Tabula;
    4. Virginiae partis australis, et Floridae;
    5. Nova Hispania;
    6. Yucatan...Guatimala;
    7. Insulae Americanae;
    8. Canibales Insulae;
    9. Mappa Aestivarum Insularum Alias Barmudas
    Sizes: 24in x 20 1/2in (610mm x 520mm)
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition
  • Date: 1662
  • Ref #:  BlaeuNA 1662

This is a unique opportunity to acquire a complete set of 9 maps of North America published by Joan Blaeus in the monumental & rare 1st 1662 Latin edition of Atlas Major. The maps cover the geographical detail of Canada, North America, Mexico, The Caribbean & Central America. Please see the background section below for details of each map. All maps have wide original margins & colour on strong sturdy paper.
Joan Blaeus 11 volumes of Atlas Major, is considered by many to be the greatest atlas set ever published. It excels in comprehensiveness, engraving, color, and overall production. The first edition was published in Latin in 1662 and was subsequently published in French, Dutch, German, and Spanish over the next 10 years.
On the 23rd of February 1672, a fire broke out in central Amsterdam, that ended the reign of one of the greatest & most prolific publishers of printed maps and atlases in publishing history. The Blaeu family had reached its zenith 10 years previously, with the publication of its greatest achievement, the Atlas Major or Great Atlas, consisting of 11 volumes, with geographical detail reflecting many of the achievements of the Golden Age of the United Netherlands. Blaeus Atlas Major were the most expensive books printed in the 17th century.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Blue, pink, red, green, yellow
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 24in x 20 1/2in (610mm x 520mm)
Plate size: - Various, pls see below
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm) min

Margins: - Pls see below
Plate area: - Pls see below
Verso: - Pls see below

1. Extrema Americae ( Eastern Canada) - Rare only published in Atlas Major. Derived mainly from the Samuel de Champlain Nouvelle France map of 1632, this map reflects the growing financial importance of the waters of New France to Europe.
Plate: 22 1/2in x 17 3/4in.
Condition: Age toning, text show-through & browning to image.

2. Nova Belgica Et Anglia Nova (New England) - NE America, centering on New York and Manhattan from Virginia to the St Lawrence River. This map is noted for the fact that its primary source is the first manuscript figurative map of Adriaen Block from 1614. Indeed it is the first full representation of it in print. It is one of the earliest to name Nieu Amsterdam. Block, a Dutch fur trader, explored the area between Cape Cod and Manhattan, examining the bays and rivers along the way.
Plate: 19 1/2in x 15 1/2in
Condition: Age toning, text show-through & browning to image.

3. Nova Virginiae Tabula (John Smiths Virginia & Chesapeake Bay) This map was printed from a plate engraved by Dirk Grijp from a previous plates by Henricus Hondius.
Plate: 19in x 15in
Condition: Light age toning

4. Virginiae partis australis, et Floridae Virginia, the Carolinas & Georgia.
Plate: 20in x 15in
Condition: Light age toning

5. Nova Hispania et Nova Galicia Western Mexico
Plate: 19 1/2in x 15 1/2in
Condition: Light age toning

6. Yucatan...Guatimala (Yucatan, Central America) Rare only published in Atlas Major.
Plate: 20 1/2in x 16 1/2in
Condition: Light age toning

7. Insulae Americana (GOM, Caribbean)
Plate: 20 1/2in x 15in
Condition: Light age toning

8. Canibales Insulae (Lesser Antilles Islands) Rare, printed only in Atlas Major
Plate: 21in x 16 1/2in
Condition: Age toning

9. Mappa Aestivarum Insularum Alias Barmudas Dictarum Bermuda. Like all 17th century maps of Bermuda this map is based ultimately on the survey made by John Norwood, of the Bermuda Company, in 1618 in the form as published by the English map-maker John Speed in 1627.
Plate: 21in x 16in
Condition: Light age toning

$24,999.00 USD
More Info