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Mercator’s Striking Map of the Americas

Americas. MERCATOR, G./ MERCATOR, M. [Amsterdam, 1613]
America sive India Nova,... 14 1/2 x 18 inches
Fine original color; few marginal mends away from image, else excellent condition.


One of the most visually distinctive early maps of the Western Hemisphere, based on the work of "the greatest name in geographical science after Ptolemy" (Tooley). Its format is both unusual and elegant: the map is set within a circle surrounded by a design of interlocking acanthus leaves and cornucopias. There are roundels in the four corners, with three of them containing maps--of the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba, and of Hispaniola.
An interesting detail on the map is what is most likely the Hudson River in the area here called ‘Norombega’. By the end of the 16th Century, the river and the great harbor at its mouth that had been discovered by Verrazano in 1524 had all but vanished from maps. Its depiction here suggests Mercator's independent-minded acceptance of Verrazano's discoveries.
Also of interest is the large, interior lake in North America called "Mare dulcum aquarum," which could be based on an Indian report of one of the Great Lakes. However, since it is well north of the Great Lakes, it could also represent James Bay or Lake Winnipeg. The map was extrapolated from Mercator's landmark world of 1569 by his grandson, Michael, for inclusion in the senior Mercator's atlas of 1595.

Burden 87; Goss, J. Mapping of North America #19.

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