Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of the World by Henricus Hondius

Stock number: 18692

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Henricus Hondius (biography)


Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula

First Published

Amsterdam, 1630

This edition

1633 French - first state


38 x 54 cms




This Item is Sold


Pristine collector's example in stunning original color, from a deluxe example of the 1633 French edition of the atlas. Thick paper, with no discoloration, imperfections or restorations. Ample margins all around. An early strong and even imprint of the copperplate.

The map appears in the Mercator-Hondius-Janssonius series of atlases from 1630 to 1675, in a total of four different states of the copperplate (van der Krogt Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici Volume I map [0001:1C.1-4]).

This example of the map is the first state of the four, with the imprint Henr. Hondius Ao. 1630 in the dedication cartouche in the lower right.

It is one of the most decorative and popular world maps of the Dutch golden age, and it was meant to impress and to win over customers, who could also buy a similar atlas of the world from Willem Janszoon Blaeu's shop that was literally next door to the shop of Joannes Janssonius and his brother-in-law Henricus Hondius. World maps were always the first map in an atlas, and as such they were the figurehead of the book.

The map is in a double-hemisphere projection, which allowed for many decorations around the map.

The hemispheres are surrounded by allegoric representations of the four elements and the four seasons, a popular motif in Dutch graphic art. It expresses the need of mankind to establish order in the world. Dating back to ancient Greek science and philosophy, the four classical elements were considered to form the structure of the universe. A relation was assumed between the four elements and the seasons. Spring corresponded to Air, Summer to Fire, Autumn to Earth and Winter to Water. Together the seasons and the elements depict a cosmic order in which everything is related in one global harmony.

The bottom center has the personifications of the continents, with Asia, America and Africa paying homage and tribute to the empress Europe, who is seated on a throne and carries a book and scepter, the symbols of wisdom and power.

The top center features a celestial globe with the stellar constellations. The sun and the moon are displayed below it, between the two hemispheres.

The two bottom corners pay tribute to the late Gerard Mercator and Jodocus Hondius (the Elder), the latter being the mapmaker's father who had deceased in 1612. The portraits show each of them with a pair of dividers and note that both are from Flanders. It was important to present them as the most prominent cartographers of the day, because Jodocus Hondius the Elder had acquired the copperplates of Mercator, and re-issued them alongside his own copperplates since 1606. Henricus Hondius and Joannes Janssonius were re-issueing and modernizing that succesful atlas.

The two top corners depict Julius Caesar and Claudius Ptolemy, representing the classic Roman and Greek civilisations that were greatly admired in renaissance.

The portraits, the continents, the celestial globe and the cartouches are framed by strapwork ornaments in the typical auricular or lobate style of the Dutch, which was very popular in decorative arts, but also in architecture and silversmithing. Around all of the frames are rich fruit and floral designs.

From 1606 through 1630, the so-called Mercator-Hondius atlas of the world had had no serious competition. The Ortelius and Münster atlases were outdated and had been discontinued. Other Amsterdam mapmakers had only issued separate maps, maritime atlases (Waghenaer, Blaeu), miniature atlases (Langenes) or atlases of the Seventeen Provinces of the Netherlands (Kaerius).

Everything changed in 1629, with the unexpected passing away of Jodocus Hondius Jr, Henricus' older brother, who was almost ready to publish his own atlas. There must have been animus between the brothers, because Jodocus Jr's copperplates were sold to Willem Janszoon Blaeu, the most important competitor of the Hondius-Janssonius firm. It was a major event in the early history of commercial cartography in Amsterdam. Blaeu replaced Jodocus Jr's name on the plates with his own, and the following year 1630 had published them together with his own maps as an atlas of the world to compete with the Mercator-Hondius atlas of his neighbors.

Henricus Hondius and Joannes Janssonius immediately ordered the engraving of plates identical to the ones bought by Blaeu.

They also decided that a new spectacular world map had to be included, because their world map by Rumold Mercator (dating back to 1595) could not compete with Blaeu's world map with figured borders that had been sold as a loose map since 1606 but was now the front showpiece map of Blaeu's atlas. They copied verbatim the title of his world map (New geographical and maritime map of the whole world), as well as the cartouche in America that attributes its discovery to Christopher Columbus on behalf of the royals of Castile, and attribute the naming of America to Amerigo Vespucci. Contrary to Blaeu, Hondius and Janssonius follow in this map the relatively novel concept of California as an island, a misconception that would persist for almost two centuries.

The map is dedicated to the scientists David Sanclarus, Antonius de Willon and Martinius.

"The world map of 1630 by Henricus Hondius is the oldest dated map in an atlas on which a Dutch discovery in Australia has been shown cartographically. This world map in two hemispheres is the earliest attempt to present an interested public the discoveries in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It is one of the first maps which deviates from Mercator's picture of the world. But the huge imaginary south-land has not yet been completely rejected."


"In 1629, threatened by pending competition from W.J. Blaeu and his sons, Jan Jansson and his partner Henricus Hondius set about revising the Mercator-Hondius atlas which (in respect of the world map) had continued unchanged for nearly thirty-five years.

The partners' new world map is a fine ornate example of the decorative cartography of the time. The two hemispheres are bordered by voluptuous representations of the four elements and other scenes: in the top corners are portraits of Julius Caesar and Claudius Ptolemy and in the bottom corners are portraits of the author's father Jodocus Hondius and his mentor Gerard Mercator.

For geographical detail Hondius has followed Speed and his contemporaries and also represents California as an island. New features include part of the north Australia coastline extending towards New Guinea and a redrawing of north-east Canada with 'Queen Anne's forland' (Baffin Island) shown completely encircled by open water."


Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612)
Jodocus Hondius II (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)