Leen Helmink Antique Maps & Atlases


Wytfliet - Chica sive Patagonica et Australis Terra

Certificate of Authentication

This is to certify that the item illustrated and described below is a genuine and
original antique map or print that was published on or near the given date.

Dr Leendert Helmink, Ph.D.

Antique map of the Southern Hemisphere by Wytfliet

Cornelis Wytfliet

First Published

Louvain, 1597

This edition

1597 first edition


23.0 x 29.4 cms


Copper engraving

Stock number





Rare first state, with the publication date of 1597 in the title cartouche.


A strong and even early impression of the copperplate. No paper restorations or imperfections. A excellent collector's example of a seminal map.

Chica or Patagonia and Terra Australis.

Rare early and important map of the Southern Hemisphere, including today's Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, Patagonia and Antarctica. The map covers the southern hemisphere showing the equator as boundary, also showing the circles of the Tropic of Capricorn and the Arctic Circle.

A big southern landmass (Terra Australis) is prominently depicted with quite some details including rivers, kingdoms, mountains and rivers. The map also gives a good view of the southern hemispherical parts of Africa, of the Indian Ocean, of the Indonesian Archipelago, of the Pacific and of the recently discovered Solomon Islands, which were initially believed to be part of Terra Australis, but turned out not to be.

The upper part of the map shows an inset map zooming in on Patagonia and the Strait of Magellan, between South America and today's Tierra del Fuego, which was the only part of the Southland that was believed to have been seen by early explorers.

This is the first map to focus on the mysterious and undiscovered Southland or Terra Australis. This polar projection is found on some 16th century world maps, notably the 1593 double hemisphere map on polar projection by Cornelis de Jode, which is loosely used as one of the sources for this map.

This Cornelis Wytfliet map of 1597 was closely copied by Jean Metellus in 1598, and by Matthias Quad in 1600. The Wytfliet is the most important of the three, because it has precedence and is the original prototype.

On the usual (flat and mercator) map projections, the southland is very distorted and incomplete because of the high southern latitudes, whereas the polar projection used here allows a clear unobstructed view of the fifth continent.

The theory of a large southern landmass was proposed by geographers in classical antiquity. The ancient Greeks scientists knew that the earth was a globe, and most (but not all) geographers were of opinion that the landmass they knew of in the northern hemisphere (formed by Europe, Asia, Northern Africa) would have to be counterbalanced by a landmass on the southern hemisphere, for the simple reasons of symmetry and equilibrium. The inhabitants of that landmass were referred to as antipodes, because they are upside down and their feet are opposite to those of the Greeks. The term Antarctic, as opposed to Arctic, was proposed by Marinus of Tyre as early as the 2nd century AD.

Some of the Greek books on geography survived the Dark Ages, particularly through the libraries in the Byzantium, who were preserving the cultural and scientific legacy of the Roman Empire. The rediscovery of the classical sources were of seminal value to the European Renaissance, including the cartographers and explorers.

The existence of a Southland was also confirmed by the Medieval book of Marco Polo, who reports from his sources in China that there are rich Kingdoms and lands abundant with gold if you sail south (Beach, Lucach regnum, Maletur regnum). The 1510 Itinerario of Ludovico Varthema, who is possibly the first European to visit Banda and the Moluccas, confirmed the ideas of a rich Southland.

Early Portuguese explorers report that in the waters south of the Cape of Good Hope, penguins are swimming south in spring, only to return with offspring in autumn, suggesting that there must be lands to the south.

The northern coast of New Guinea was discovered as early as 1526-27 by the Portuguese explorer Jorge de Menezes, but in the 16th century the Europeans could not figure out from the inhabitants, who did not seem to agree on this, whether it was an island or whether it was a promontory of the Southland.

Some 16th century globe makers and cartographers state that the "Southland has recently been discovered but not yest explored", which has sometimes been used as indication of an early Portuguese discovery of Australia, but there is no evidence yet of such an event.

In the sixteenth century, the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan, which would result in the first voyage to complete a circumnavigation of the world, was to first that was believed to have actually seen the Southland, when sailing through the strait that still bears his name. He naturally assumed that the steep mountainous coast to the south of the strait was part of the legendary southland. It was not proven to be an island until the circumnavigation of Schouten and Lemaire, who rounded Cape Hoorn in 1616. Francis Drake, during his circumnavigation of 1577-80 had also believed it was an island or group of islands, but could not prove it due to bad weather conditions. The toponyms on the inset map at the top

In 1568, sailing from Peru, the Spanish navigator Mendaña had discovered the Solomon Islands, initially believing that they were part of Terra Australis.

The earliest recorded discovery of Australia was made by Willem Janszoon in 1606, when with his little surveilling yacht Duyfken he made a landfall with tragic loss of many lifes in Cape York peninsula. Because he had dismissed the shallow entrance of Torres' Strait as a dead end (Drooghe Boght, as all Dutch explorers after him), he believed that he was still in New Guinea.

The earliest recorded discovery of the continent of Antarctica occurred in 1820 by a Russian expedition commended by Bellingshausen and Lazarev. In 1773, James Cook and his crew crossed the Antarctic Circle for the first time. Although they discovered nearby islands, they did not catch sight of Antarctica itself. It is believed he was as close as 240 km (150 mi) from the mainland.

Cornelis Wytfliet (?-1597)

Little is known of Wytfliet except that he was a native of Brabant, but there is no doubt about the importance of his only atlas, which was the first one printed to deal exclusively with America.

Although its title indicated to be a 'supplement to Ptolemy', Part I covered the history of the discovery of America and its geography and natural history and Part II consisted entirely of the contemporary maps of America and a world map based on Mercator.

(Moreland & Bannister).

Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum

In 1597 Cornelis van Wytfliet published his Augmentum to Ptolemy's Geography. This is true in as much as it covers all the Americas, a part of the world unknown to the latter; however, no other connection between them exists. Dedicated to Philip III of Spain it is a history of the New World to date, recording its discovery, natural history etc. For the book Wytfliet had engraved nineteen maps, by whom we do not know, one of the world and eighteen regional maps of the Americas. Of these the following eight maps all relate to the north of the continent. As such this book can be truly called the first atlas of America. It was an immediate success and ran to several editions. Not much is known about Wytfliet other than that he was an advocate and secretary to the Council of Brabant, whose capital at the time was Louvain.

Despite the fact that this map covers territory virtually unknown to the Europeans, it owes its existence to the fact that Wytfliet showed every part of the continent however little knowledge there was of it.



The Descriptionis Ptolemaicae Augmentum (“Augmentation to Ptolemy's description”) is the only known work by Cornelis van Wytfliet, secretary to the Council of Brabant, who died in 1597 (a more correct Dutch orthography of his name is “Van Wijtvliet”). He named his work an augmentation to Ptolemy's Geography because it covers the Americas, a part of the world unknown to Ptolemy. However, there is no other connection between the works of Ptolemy and Van Wytfliet.

His book includes 19 maps, a world map and 18 regional maps, all of which were specially engraved for this edition. It was the first separately published atlas with all the maps entirely devoted to America. Most of Van Wytfliet's maps are the first or among the earliest of specific regions of North and South America. The accompanying text describes the geography, natural history and ethnography. It provides a history of exploration and the voyages of Christopher Columbus (1492-1502), John Cabot (1497-98), Sebastian Cabot (1526-28), Francisco Pizarro (1527-35), Giovanni de Verrazzano (1524), Jacques Cartier (1540-42), and Martin Frobisher (1576-78).

Two editions of the Descriptionis Ptolemaicae were published at Leuven in 1597 and 1598 respectively by Jean Bogard and Gerard Rivius. Jean Bogard was publisher in Douai in France (1574-86 and 1598-1616) and Leuven (1586-98; however, it is possible that the Leuven publisher in this period was Jean's son Jean II Bogard). In 1603 the first Douai edition was issued by François Fabri, who continued issuing various editions with Latin and French texts. The last edition of Wytfliet’s book was published in Arnhem, where Jan Jansz. issued an edition with a French text in 1615.

(van der Krogt)