1609 Mercator Hondius Antique Map of Siberia, China, Central Asia, North America

Cartographer : Henricus Hondius

This fine beautifully hand coloured original antique map of Central Asia, China & Eastern Russia with a very early view of the NW coast of America - one of the first maps to depict this region - by Gerard Mercator was published by Joducus Hondius in the 1609 French edition of Mercators Atlas.

Condition Report:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy, stained & weak in places
Paper color: - off white
Age of map color: - Original
Colors used: - Yellow, pink, green
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 23in x 19in (580mm x 480mm)
Plate size: - 19 1/2in x 13 1/2in (490mm x 340mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - Uniform age toning
Plate area: - None
Verso: - Uniform age toning

A beautifully ornate map in a style highly popular in the 16th and early 17th centuries. To the left of the map is the image of a man of Central Asia and another of an Arctic Hunter, possibly an Eskimo. The rest of the map is full of detail both real and myth, some of which is no doubt borrowed from the writings of Marco Polo considered at the time one of the foremost expert on China and Central Asia. Overlooked by some experts is the inclusion of the NW Coastline of America important as it would be 150 years before this region was thoroughly mapped by Capt. James Cook in the 1770's.

The newly discovered northern coastline of Nova Zembla is shown with a notation concerning the Dutch expedition led by Willem Barents in 1594-96. Interesting notations in Siberia, Ung quae Gog and Sumongul quae Mogog, refer to the mythological lands of Gog and Magog. These lands, noted in the Bible as being situated in the remotest parts of the earth, were originally depicted on maps just north of Israel. Also shown is the Great Wall of China, Korea is depicted as an Island, a very early example of the the Northwest Coast of America, naming Cape de Fortuna and the Straits of Anian. The map extends west to include the Black Sea and Russia, but the primary focus of the map is Tartaria, Central Asia China and Asiatic Russia. Decorative vignettes in include a nomadic tribe, tents and livestock. An early map of the region and certainly one of the most decorative of the genre.

Jodocus Hondius (1563 - 1612), one of the most notable engravers of his time, is known for his work in association with many of the cartographers and publishers prominent at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century. 
In 1604 Hondius bought the plates of Mercator's Atlas which, in spite of its excellence, had not competed successfully with the continuing demand of Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. 
To meet this competition Hondius added about 40 maps to Mercator's original number and from 1606 published enlarged editions in many languages, still under Mercator's name but with his own name as publisher. These atlases have become known as the Mercator/Hondius series. The following year the maps were re-engraved in miniature form and issued as a pocket Atlas Minor.
After the death of Jodocus Hondius the Elder in 1612, work on the two atlases, folio and miniature, was carried on by his widow and sons, Jodocus II and Henricus, and eventually in conjunction with Jan Jansson in Amsterdam. In all, from 1606 onwards, nearly 50 editions with increasing numbers of maps with texts in the main European languages were printed. (Ref: Koeman; M&B; Tooley)