1662 Joan Blaeu Antique Map of the Island of Bermuda - Mappa Aestivarum Insularum

Cartographer : Joan Blaeu

  • Title : Mappa Aestivarum Insularum Alias Barmudas Dictarum. . . .
  • Size: 24in x 20 1/2in (610mm x 520mm)
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition
  • Date : 1662
  • Ref #:  3023

This beautiful, original, hand coloured copper-plate engraved antique map of the Island of Bermuda 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 first produced by Joan Blaeus father, Willem in 1630 - after the John Speed map of 1627 - and was published in Atlas Major for only 10 years, 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 heavy paper, a strong impression and original margins.

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.
Although discovered in 1515 by Spaniard Juan de Bermudez, after whom the island is supposedly named, it was the shipwreck of a party of Virginia colonists in 1610 led by Sir George Somers that gave Bermuda its first known inhabitants. The Latin title reflects this fact, for Aestivarum Insularum means summers (or Somers) Islands. The experience of Somers and his men inspired William Shakespeare, who dispatched Ariel to \"fetch dew from the still-vext Bermoothes\" and populated the islands with the cast of The Tempest. 
The place names and the list of Proprietors given below the map itself all recall the original members of the Bermuda Company, the latter being listed as eight tribes (or parishes).
In 1610, the Virginia Company, in a True Declaration of the Estate of the Colonie of Virginia, said of Bermuda: These Islands of Bermudos, have evere beene accounted as an inchaunted pile of rocks, and a desert inhabitation for Divels; but all the Faities of the rockes were but flocks of Birds, and all the Divels that haunted the woods, were but heards of Swine.
In the upper left-hand and right-hand corners of the map appear the adjacent coasts of the North American colonies of Virginia and New England with, just below the cartouche a tiny outline of Bermuda itself, intended to show its correct proportion and position against the mainland.(Ref Tooley M&B)

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: - 24in x 20 1/2in (610mm x 520mm)
Plate size: - 21in x 16in (535mm x 410mm)
Margins: - Min 1in (25mm)

Margins: - Light age toning
Plate area: - Light age toning
Verso: - Light age toning

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.