Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of America by Hondius

Stock number: 18655

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Jodocus Hondius (biography)



First Published

Amsterdam, 1606


37.7 x 50.5 cms


Copper engraving




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"This map was engraved by Jodocus Hondius for his first edition of Gerard Mercator's atlas. Intended to be a grand comprehensive work, with the first part originally appearing in 1585, by Mercator's death in 1594 only two parts had been published. Continued by his family, it was still incomplete for the 1602 edition, lacking most importantly a section on the Iberian peninsula. During this time it was also competing with the remarkably successful atlas of Abraham Ortelius which averaged almost obe edition per year. By 1604 Jodocus Hondius was flourishing, and in that year acquired all of the plates from Mercator's descendants. He immediately set about engraving many new maps to augment and complete the work, amongst which was a set of the four continents. He also had the original text expanded by Petrus Montanus. In the following year he brought out Mercator's Ptolemy, and in 1606 his first edition of the general atlas which proved instantly popular, selling out within a year.

Right up until 1630 this map was issued alongside the 'America sive India Nova' b Michael Mercator, 1595. Since the text describing America was always used by the Mercator, this one is always lacking one. Produced on a stereographic projection like more and more maps of the time, it is an amalgam of various sources. It incorporates a more correct west coast of South America and narrows still further the longitudinal width of New Spain at the Tropic of Cancer, making it just 10 degrees, much closer to reality. However, just like all cartography before, it still retains an enlarged North American continent. A Plancius type depiction of Newfoundland occurs alongside a typical period representation of the east coast, with a more protruding Virginia than usual. Various scenes taken from the earlier volumes of de Bry's 'Grand Voyages' adorn the whole. Particularly notable is the native Brazilian scene illustrating the method used to make a local beverage, derived from Hans Staden's voyage as recorded by de Bry. There are various galleons, kayaks and Indian canoes along with a pair of birds perched on the inset."


"The acquisition of the Mercator plates by Jodocus Hondius was cause to reissue the atlas in 1606 with a series of new maps of the four continents.
The Hondius 'America' is a very attractive map with a scene appended from Theodore de Bry showing Brazilian natives making a local beverage.
Since the Michael Mercator map was published in the same volume, it is clear that Hondius' effort is the more modern version with the Drake landfall noted in California and the bulge removed from the west coast of South America.
The St. Lawrence River is seen as the gateway into the interior of the northern continent but without Great Lakes."


Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612)
Jodocus Hondius the Younger (son) (1594-1629)
Henricus Hondius (son) (1597-1651)

"Jodocus Hondius the Elder, one of the most notable engravers of his time, is known for his work in association with many of the cartographers and publishers prominent at the end of the sixteenth and the beginning of the seventeenth century.

A native of Flanders, he grew up in Ghent, apprenticed as an instrument and globe maker and map engraver. In 1584, to escape the religious troubles sweeping the Low Countries at that time, he fled to London where he spent some years before finally settling in Amsterdam about 1593. In the London period he came into contact with the leading scientists and geographers of the day and engraved maps in The Mariner's Mirrour, the English edition of Waghenaer's Sea Atlas, as well as others with Pieter van den Keere, his brother-in-law. No doubt his temporary exile in London stood him in good stead, earning him an international reputation, for it could have been no accident that Speed chose Hondius to engrave the plates for the maps in The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine in the years between 1605 and 1610.

In 1604 Hondius bought the plates of Mercator's Atlas which, in spite of its excellence, had not competed successfully with the continuing demand for the Ortelius Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. To meet this competition Hondius added about 40 maps to Mercator's original number and from 1606 published enlarged editions in many languages, still under Mercator's name but with his own name as publisher. These atlases have become known as the Mercator/ Hondius series. The following year the maps were reengraved in miniature form and issued as a pocket Atlas Minor.

After the death of Jodocus Hondius the Elder in 1612, work on the two atlases, folio and miniature, was carried on by his widow and sons, Jodocus II and Henricus, and eventually in conjunction with Jan Jansson in Amsterdam. In all, from 1606 onwards, nearly 50 editions with increasing numbers of maps with texts in the main European languages were printed."

(Moreland and Bannister)