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The Extremely Rare, Final Edition of Ortelius’s World Map Only the Second Known, Separate Example
[Antwerp, 1641]

World.  ORTELIUS, Abraham [Antwerp: 1641]  Typus Orbis Terrarum. 14 x 19 inches.  Copperplate engraving.  Fine condition with a sharp impression.                                                            
One of the legendary rarities of Dutch atlas production of the Golden Age is the 1641 final edition of Ortelius’s monumental Theatrum.  Only three copies of it are known to have survived (see below), all now in institutional collections.  Offered here is the world map from this atlas, only the second separate example to come to light.  No examples appear in either market records or in OCLC, which records library holdings.  Shirley mentions being aware of a single example of the map, though he suggests a 1628 date, as he seems not have been aware of the 1641 edition of the atlas.

 Offered here is a fine example with a sharp printing impression on heavy paper.  The strength of the impression indicates that the by then quite old printing plate for this map had been considerably refreshed for this edition.  That our example is from the final 1641 edition is established by the following:  it is printed from the third plate with Spanish verso text; the southern part of South America has been completely re-engraved; it has cross hachuring in background of the border; and the 1587 date has been removed.  It conforms to van den Broeck’s and others’ description of this edition.

Van der Krogt provides an excellent account of the long-incubating genesis of the 1641 final edition of Ortelius’s atlas—see reference below.  The effort appears to have been a passion project for Balthasar Moretus, who in 1618 took over the Plantin Press, which still owned the Ortelius atlas.  It began in 1624 with the publication of a new edition, with re-worked old plates and some new ones, of the Parergon (a kind of supplement to Ortelius’s Theatrum).  The project to re-publish the entire Theatrum itself then languished for several years, but near the end of Moretus’s life, it seemingly suddenly sprang to life.  Records show that Moretus paid Jan Galle on May 11th, 1641, for printing 25 copies of the atlas with Spanish text.  (The text was unaltered from the 1612 edition.)   Moretus died a few months later, and his estate listed 22 copies of the atlas.  The three surviving copies of the atlas are today at the Library of the City of Antwerp, the Newberry Library in Chicago, and National Library of Norway in Oslo.     

 Van den Broecke, Ortelius Atlas Maps, Ort 3:3, p. 77 & p. 26; Shirley 158; cf. van der Krogt, Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici, vol. iii a, 31:454, p. 227-228.   


Price: $16,500.00

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