1662 Joan Blaeu Antique Map of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia - John Smith Map, Superb

Cartographer : Joan Blaeu

Description:
This beautiful, original, hand coloured copper-plate engraved antique map of Chesapeake Bay, Virginia (or the John Smith map) was published in arguably the greatest atlas ever published, the 11th volume of Joan Blaeus 1662 edition of Atlas Major, or Great Atlas, Latin 1st edition.
This map was printed from a plate engraved by Dirk Grijp from a previous plates by Henricus Hondius and was only published in Atlas Major over a 10 year period, prior to the disastrous 1672 fire that wiped out the Blaeu publishing house. The original colouring is also extremely rare to find and this colouring is exceptional, along with clean strong paper and original margins.

This is one of the most important seventeenth century maps of the Chesapeake Bay region. The early settlement of Jamestown Iamestowne is noted along with a number of other place names, both in English and Native American. The map was derived from Capt. John Smiths map of 1612 and was the first to depict the bay and its tributaries with any accuracy. 
Capt John Smiths fine survey work, as well as reports from indigenous American Indian tribes, and fanciful wishful thinking, combine to make this one of the most interesting maps of America to emerge in the 17th century. This map, Nova Virginiae Tabula, is considered by many to be one of the most important maps of America ever produced and certainly one of the greatest influence. Oriented to the west, this map covers from Cape Henry to the Susquehanna River and inland as far as the Appellation Mountains. The Chesapeake Bay is shown in full as are many of its river estuaries, though topographically this map places a number of mountain ranges where there are in fact none. 
To fully understand this map one must first realize that most Europeans believed the Pacific, or at least some great bay that led to the Pacific, lay just a few days travel inland. In the minds of most Europeans of the period, the trade potential for the Virginia colony was entirely dependent upon it being a practical access point to the riches of Asia. Thus the significance of large and mysterious body of water appearing in the land of the Massawomecks, in the upper right quadrant, becomes apparent. Of course, much of this land was entirely unexplored by the European settlers in Jamestown, shown here on the Powhatan River (James River), who relied heavily upon American Indian reports for much of their cartographic knowledge of the Virginia hinterlands. The Massawomecks themselves were a rival of the Powhatan and made their home near the headwaters of the Potomac. These, like many other indigenous groups of the region made only a brief and frequently violent appearance during the 17th century before entirely disappearing, mostly from disease and war, in the early 18th century.
In the upper left quadrant there is an image of the American Indian chief of the Powhatan sitting enthroned before a great fire in his long house. One of the more popular legends regarding John Smith was his capture and trial before the chief of the Powahatan. Smith was convinced that his liberation had something to do with the youthful daughter of Chief Powahatan, Pocahontas, taking a liking to him. Although this grew into a fictitious legend of its own, the truth is more likely that Powhatan saw Smith and his Englishmen as potential allies against the rival American Indian groups, such as the Massawomecks, that were pressing hard against his borders.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Yellow, green, blue, pink
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 24 1/4in x 20 1/2in (615mm x 520mm)
Plate size: - 19in x 15in (485mm x 380mm)
Margins: - Min 2in (50mm)

Imperfections:
Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - Light age toning

Background: 
Atlas Major or Great Atlas - During the early hours of the 23rd of February 1672, a fire broke out and engulfed a building on Gravenstraat, in the centre of Amsterdam. Such an event at the time was unremarkable, until it was recognised that the fire had brought to an end of one of the greatest publishing houses of all time. Dr Joan Blaeus family were responsible for printing and publishing some of the most important maps, atlases, religious and philosophical books, that are recognised even today, as remarkable. The fire was described in suitably vivid terms in the annual review publication, De Hollandtse Mercurius for 1672-1673
.............the disaster occurred at 3.30 on the morning of the 23rd of February because of the dryness of the timbers, or perhaps the carelessness of the apprentices; the magnificent establishment caught fire, and with it printing type, presses, plates and paper, were all burnt and sparks were sent flying as far as the Tol-heck (Toll Gate). One report put the financial cost of the damage at fl. 27, 000 for the buildings and some fl 355,000 for the plate-stock in the printing works and shop premises, to give total estimated losses of fl. 382, 000 (or about $25milUS in modern terms) together with some four or five thousand reams of paper, five or six thousand sheets, 88 thousand kg. printing type and so on...................
The fire precipitated the end of a publishing house established over 40 years before, and very probably contributed to the death of its proprietor, Alderman Dr Joan Blaeu, a year later, effectively ending the reign of one of the greatest producers of printed maps and atlases in publishing history. Only 10 years previously, in 1662, the house had reached its zenith with the publication of its greatest achievement, the Atlas Major or Great Atlas, containing 11 volumes with geographical detail reflecting many of the achievements of the Golden Ageof the United Netherlands. 

Joan Blaeus 11 volume Atlas Major is considered by many to be the greatest atlas ever published, both in its own time and even today. It excels in comprehensiveness, engraving, color, and overall production. The first Latin edition was published in 1662 and was subsequently published in French, Dutch, German, and Spanish.
Most of the surviving copies of the Atlas Major are bound in what might be termed as Standard bindings, in other words, uniform cream-coloured vellum with gilt tooling and lettering. Wealthy clients for the atlas could commission a binder to bind their sets in morocco or even velvet, embellished with their crests of other decorative devices. Such bindings were carried out by the celebrated binder Albert Magnus, who flourished in Amsterdam from the 1660s to 1680. As it appears that Joan Blaeu had no bindery on his premises, it is very likely that Magnus also bound copies in the standard binding. 
Colour was also a very important consideration. Although the atlas was published in black and white, and could be bought so (without hand colouring) many clients buying the atlas for display in their houses proffered their copies illuminated with rich hand colouring and sometime with gold high lightening. This of course was considerably more expensive, and there were in Amsterdam at the time artists who carried out such work. One of these was Dirk Janszoon van Santen who coloured and gilded maps and atlases to order, examples of which have survived and may be seen in institutional collections.
Blaeus atlas was the most expensive printed book in the 17th century. Blaeus catalogue of 1670, his Catalogue des Atlas, Theatre des Citez, quoted prices for the 12 volume French Text edition of the atlas at fl. 450 for a coloured set, and fl. 350 for a black and white set. This is the equivalent of paying around $70,000 today (although to purchase today at auction could be well over $250,000)

The original 11 volumes of Atlas Majorcontained the following contents: 
v 1. Arctica --Europa, liber 1-2:. Norvegia. Dania. Sleswic
v. 2. Europa, liber 3-7: Suecia. Russia. Polonia. Regiones orientales ultra Germaniam circa Danubium. Graecia
v. 3. Europa, liber 8: Germania
v. 4. Europa, liber 9-10: Belgica regia
v. 5. Europa, liber 11: Anglia
v. 6. Europa, liber 12-13: Scotia. Hibernia
v. 7. Europa, liber 14-15: Gallia. Helvetia
v. 8. Europa, liber 16: Italia
v. 9. Europa, liber 17: Hispania. Africa
v. 10. Asia 
v. 11. America.

$3,750.00