Item #16000030 W./ NORWOOD BLAEU, R.

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The Most Beautiful Early Map of Bermuda in Fine Original Color
[Amsterdam, 1642]

Bermuda.  BLAEU, W./ NORWOOD, R.  [Amsterdam, 1642]  Mappa Aestivarum Insularum, alias Barmudas . . . 15 7/8 x 21 inches.  Superb original color; a few light marginal stains, mend in lower right corner, well away from printed image, else excellent.           
The most richly decorative, early map of the Bermuda with very attractive period coloring.  As were most 17th century maps of Bermuda, Blaeu’s was based on Richard Norwood’s 1618 chart that was made for the Bermuda Company.  The map thus includes the parishes and tribes allotted to the company’s principal shareholders, with their names included, most of which survive to this day.  The map vividly illustrates how hazardous the coastline of Bermuda was and is to shipping by the almost unbroken ring of crosses signifying wrecks surrounding the island. The map’s majestic cartouche depicts Neptune, standing astride the English Royal Arms, bearing a trident in one hand and a Dutch ship in the other.  At lower right is the coat of arms of Bermuda illustrating the grounding of the Sea Venture of the Virginia Company in 1609, which resulted in Bermuda’s first settlement and was the inspiration for Shakespeare’s Tempest as well.

The engraving actually presents two maps of Bermuda of different scales. Nestled within the hook of the island is another, smaller depiction of Bermuda, placed there to show its position and size relative to Cape Cod, Virginia and Nova Scotia, whose coastlines appear along the upper edge of the map. This design proved confusing to some later copiers, who dispensed with the mainland in their renditions while mistakenly retaining the smaller “Bermuda” as a small island off the coast of Bermuda.

Palmer, M. Maps of Bermuda, p. 10.


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