Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Nova et Accuratissima Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula

Antique map of the World by Joan Blaeu

Joan Blaeu


Amsterdam, 1662


40.8 x 54.5 cms


Copper engraving

Stock number





$ 16000


"Since its appearance as an Appendix in 1630, the atlas launched by Willem J. Blaeu and continued by his son Joan had expanded greatly. But in spite of many new regional maps the general [world] map in volume I — taken from a plate engraved in 1606 — remained unchanged. For some reason Joan Blaeu's important wall map of 1648 was not immediately adapted by his firm for atlas use although it was copied in reduced form by other Dutch cartographers.

The new world map prepared by Joan Blaeu for his eleven-volume Atlas Maior in 1662 is, unlike its predecessor, in two hemispheres. It is not directly taken from the large original of 1648 but is copied from of his competitor's reductions, perhaps that by Nicolaas Visscher. The particular outline of California, the inclusion of Nova Albion, Pt.Sr. Franca Draco, and part of Anian are features not found on the large 1648 map.

As with all productions by the firm of Blaeu, the engraving and layout and elegance of decoration are all of the highest standard. The map is invariably printed on thick paper of quality and often superbly handcoloured. Outside the twin hemispheres at the top are celestial figures seated amid clouds: below are representations of the four seasons with each allegorical figure seated in an appropriate chariot quaintly drawn by pairs of beasts and birds.

After the Latin-text edition of 1662, Blaeu's Atlas Maior appeared with French text in 1663, Dutch text in 1664, with French text again in 1667 and with German text in the same year. An incomplete Spanish-text edition was made up after the fire in 1672 which ravaged the Blaeu printing works and destroyed many of the plates. The world map plate seems to have survived and, after the sale of many maps and plates between 10 and 1677, have come into the hands of the Van Keulen family. It is found in some Van Keulen atlases of 1681, 1682 and 1685."


"Blaeu's superb double hemispherical map is one of the earliest world maps to incorporate Tasman's discoveries in Australia and New Zealand. On some examples of this map the ghosting of Tasman's 1642-43 track is visible."

(Simon Dewez)

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638)
Joan Blaeu (son) (1596-1673)
Cornelis Blaeu (son) (?-c.1642)

Willem Janszoon Blaeu died in October 1638, leaving his prospering business to his sons, Joan and Cornelis, who continued and expanded their father's ambitious plans.

After the premature death of his brother Cornelis in 1642, Joan directed the work alone and the whole atlas series of 6 volumes was eventually completed about 1655. As soon as it was finished he began the preparation of the even larger work, the Atlas Maior, which reached publication in 1662 in 11 volumes (later editions in 9-12 volumes) and contained nearly 600 double-page maps and 3,000 pages of text. This was, and indeed remains, the most magnificent work of its kind ever produced; perhaps its geographical content was not as up-to-date or as accurate as its author could have wished, but any deficiencies in that direction were more than compensated for by the fine engraving and colouring, the elaborate cartouches and pictorial and heraldic detail and especially the splendid calligraphy.

In 1672 a disastrous fire destroyed Blaeu's printing house in the Gravenstraat and a year afterwards Joan Blaeu died. The firm's surviving stocks of plates and maps were gradually dispersed, some of the plates being bought by F. de Wit and Schenk and Valck, before final closure in about 1695.

(Moreland and Bannister)