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Rare, Striking 16th Century World Map
JODE, G & C. DE [Antwerp, 1589/1593]
Totius Orbis Cogniti Universalis Descriptio.
13 ¾ x 20 inches
Fine hand color; fine condition; elegantly framed.
A beautiful example of one of two world maps appearing only in the second and final edition of Gerard and Cornelis De Jode’s Speculum Orbis Terrarum. It was engraved by the younger De Jode in 1589 yet was not published in atlas form until 1593 after the elder De Jode’s death. The 1593 edition introduced maps replacing many in the earlier edition that had been executed by other cartographers. These new maps attempted to keep the Speculum up-to-date with the rapid changes taking place in the European view of the world in the late 16th century. Neither of the two editions of the Speculum was particularly successful commercially, and maps from them are rare even without color.
The main map appears at first glance to employ the Mercator Projection, which first appeared in 1569, and whose significance would not be completely understood until expounded by Edward Wright in 1599. This is, however, not the case. While a Mercator projection increases latitude near the poles to correct for the Earth’s curvature, this projection’s lines of latitude remain constant. The projection used by De Jode here is attributed to Marinus of Tyre, a predecessor of Claudius Ptolemy who developed the idea of meridians and parallels. It might be speculated that De Jode used the Marinus projection to produce a “Mercator-like” map at a time when that method was in the ascendancy.
The engraving also includes two hemispherical projections in the upper left and right hand corners. The Southern Hemisphere is dominated by a vast Terra Australis Incognita, which includes Tierra del Fuego. South America appears in the “potato” form made familiar by Mercator and Ortelius. North America, delineated much in the same tradition, is heavily speculative: the fictional regions of Anian and Norumbega appear prominently. Legendary cities of wealth such as “Quivira” and “Cevola” (both of which Coronado sought) are also noted on the map.
The De Jodes had the misfortune of attempting to enter the atlas market at the same time as the highly successful Abraham Ortelius, whose Theatrum Orbis Terrarum would be issued in thirty-seven editions. In spite of the quality of the De Jode atlas – many of the De Jode maps are thought to be superior to Ortelius’s – commercially, it was no match. The lack of success and hence the scarcity of the De Jode atlas are often attributed to his rival’s superior political and business connections. Ortelius was able to enjoy a license and monopoly for his atlas, whereas De Jode’s efforts to secure a license were fruitless for many years. There are indications that Ortelius actively maneuvered to have De Jode’s application for ecclesiastical and royal imprimatur delayed until his own expired; at any rate, the first copies of the Speculum were not sold until 1579, nine years after Ortelius’ work was first published.
It was not until 1593 that the second and final edition appeared under the aegis of the son, Cornelis, featuring its new maps. After Cornelis’ death in 1600, the plates for the Speculum were purchased by Jan Baptist Vrients, who was then publishing Ortelius’ atlas, but there were no later printings of De Jode’s maps.
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