Leen Helmink Antique Maps & Atlases



Certificate of Authentication

This is to certify that the item illustrated and described below is a genuine antique
map, print or book that was first produced and published in 1652, today 372 years ago.
July 17, 2024

Dr Leendert Helmink, Ph.D.


First Published

Paris, 1652

This edition

Amsterdam, 1653-1660


19.0 x 28.0 cms


Copper engraving

Stock number




Antique map of Asia by Sanson
Antique map of Asia by Sanson


A very attractive mid-17th century quarto-sized map of Asia from Cape York all the way to Egypt, including the Arabian peninsula and eastern part of Africa, while also including the Land of Jesso which is directly to the north of Japan. Showing detailed knowledge of the small islands dotting the continent.

Engraved by Antoine de Winter of Amsterdam and compiled and published by the great French Cartographer Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667) in his 'Pocket Atlas of Asia' published in 1652. This example is from a Dutch edition of the atlas published between 1653-60.


Here in superb contemporary outline color lavishly heightened in gold to highlight the borders of countries, the major settlements, the major latitude circles (equator, tropics of cancer, arctic circle) , the title and its ornamented cartouche, the compass rose as well as the longitude and latitude markings around the map and on the equator. Some unobtrusive spotting near the bottom and top of the map area. Strong and even imprint of the copperplate. Very wide margins. A stunning collector's prize.

The gold highlighting was a rare feature of expensive deluxe versions of atlases that were produced for wealthy and important customers or royals and reached its zenith in Blaeu's lavish 'Atlas Maior' published in 1662.

The colouring and illumination of this map and the atlas it was in was most likely done by Dirk Janszoon van Santen, the most famous master illuminator of the Dutch golden age.

Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667)

Nicolas Sanson was the foremost French mapmaker of the period.

Sanson was born in Abbeville where as a young man he studied history, particularly of the ancient world, and it is said that he turned to cartography only as a means of illustrating his historical work. For this purpose he prepared a number of beautifully drawn maps, one of which, after his move to Paris, came to the attention of Louis XIII. In due course the King appointed him ‘Géographe Ordinaire du Roi', one of his duties being to tutor the King in geography.

In the preparation of his major atlas, Cartes Générales de Toutes les Parties du Monde, Sanson employed a number of engravers, one of whom, M. Tavernier, engraved important maps showing the Post Roads and River and Waterway system of France (1632–34) and a map of the British Isles (1640). In all, Sanson produced about 300 maps of which two of North America were particularly influential: Amerique Septentrionale (1650) and Le Canada ou Nouvelle France (1656), the first map to show all the Great Lakes. After Sanson's death the business was carried on by his two surviving sons and grandson, in partnership with A. H. Jaillot.

It is generally accepted that the great age of French cartography originated with the work of Nicolas Sanson but credit must go also to A. H. Jaillot and Pierre Duval for re-engraving his maps, many still unprinted at his death, and re-publishing them in face of strong competition from the Dutch, who continued to dominate the market until the end of the century.