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The Finest Early Atlas of the Americas
With Rich Period Color Accented with Gold
BLAEU, W. & J. [Amsterdam, 1662]
America, Quae Est Geographiae Blauianae Pars Quinta, Liber Unus, Volumen Undecimum.
Folio. Contemporary vellum, gold stamped, worn at top of spine; pp. 287, printed frontispiece & 23 maps with superb original color and some gold highlighting; some toning on few maps but overall bright and clean, excellent condition.
A most attractive copy, in a fine binding and with rich color of the period, of arguably the most beautiful, early atlas of the Americas, in its first, Latin edition. It was the eleventh volume of Joan Blaeu’s Atlas Maior, considered by many to have been the finest atlas of the Dutch Golden Age of cartography. This volume is the most desirable of Blaeu’s atlases of the Americas, containing as it does many maps not present in earlier iterations of the firm’s atlases – in particular, those pertaining to the Dutch sphere of influence in South America. The atlas contains many of the Blaeus’ most celebrated maps: the carte a figures Western Hemisphere, the famous west-oriented map of the New Netherlands and New England, and Captain John Smith’s map of Virginia, all found here in fine examples. According to van der Krogt, the allegorical frontispiece – present here, beautifully engraved by Jeremias Falck – only appeared in a few copies of the book.
The atlas displays the high standards the younger Blaeu brought to the company’s productions, exemplified by the maps added under his editorship. These include fine maps of Maritime Canada and Newfoundland, of Central America. Also included is an array of highly pictorial maps of Dutch areas of invasion and settlement in Brazil, all of which made their atlas debut in the Atlas Maior. These include maps of Sergipe del Rey, northern and southern Pernambuco, Paraiba, and a chart of the Bahia De Todos Sanctos. These maps illustrated and celebrated the brief period from 1620 to 1650 during which the Dutch made significant inroads on the Portuguese dominance of the sugar trade in Brazil. The maps of Pernambuco and Paraiba, among the most visually engaging of the Blaeus’ maps, depict Dutch sugar plantations in rich detail. The map of Sergipe del Rey - decorated boldly with a rich garland of exotic fruit – emphasizes the bounty of the region, and also bears strikingly accurate renditions of a jaguar, a capybara and a tapir. These species were native to Brazil and would have been entirely novel to Europeans. Depictions of sea battles on the maps, and the chart of the Bahia De Todos Sanctos, emphasize the early Dutch naval victories in 1624. While the Dutch were eventually expelled by the Portuguese they still profited greatly by the sugar trade by becoming the chief carriers of the commodity.
Van der Krogt 2: 601:11; Phillips 3430.