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A Very Early Issue of the First Plate

Americas. ORTELIUS, A, [Antwerp, 1571]
Americae Sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio. 14 ½ x 20 inches.
Fine hand color; excellent condition.


The "first map of the Americas to appear in a modern atlas," (Schwartz) which “had a great influence on the future cartography of the New World” (Burden). When this map was published, the coastal areas of the North America had been fairly well explored, but settlement and colonization by Europeans was just beginning. It was at this critical historical juncture that Ortelius' map provided Europeans with their best general depiction of the Western Hemisphere.
Perhaps Ortelius' greatest asset as a mapmaker was his ability to tap the best sources of his day. Most remarkable was that he drew upon Spanish and Portuguese sources, particularly as both nations attempted to keep their geographical information secret. We can see the results in this map in the Spanish-held areas of California, Mexico, and South America, which are quite well detailed.
In its design and engraving, this map, with its classical, architectural cartouche and the fluted corners providing balance and elegance, is justly regarded as one of the most satisfying in Ortelius' ouevre.

Schwartz / Ehrenberg, p. 69; Burden 39; van den Broecke, map 9; van der Krogt 9000: 31A:002.

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