BLAEU, Willem (1571-1638) and Jan BLAEU (1596-1673). Atlas Mayor, sino Geographia Blaviana, en la qual exactamente se descrive la tierra, el mar, y el cielo. Amsterdam: Jan Blaeu, [1659-1672].
Volume I [Northern Europe, Scandinavia]. [Nuevo Atlas o Theatro del Mundo, En en [!] qual, con gran cuydado, se proponen los Mapas y Descriptiones de todo Universo. 1659.] 70 hand-coloured maps. (Lacks engraved title, some separation at centrefold of Europa map, 20 maps lightly browned, intermittent areas throughout with margins lightly browned or dampstained.) Includes the important world map, of which Shirley observes: "As with all productions of the firm of Blaeu, the engraving and layout are all of the highest standard." This volume corresponds to those in the Bibliotheca Nacional and the Museo Naval, Madrid, in including the resplendent baroque frontispiece. In common with the volume in the Library of Congress, it lacks the engraved title and does not include the 'Amigo Lector' leaf. Unlike copies assembled after 1672, the maps have the Spanish text printed directly on the verso. Van der Krogt, 2:641.1; R. Shirley, Early Printed World Maps, 428.
Volume II [Eastern Europe, including Russia]. Nuevo Atlas de Las Partes Orientales de Europa. 1659. Engraved pictorial title and 29 hand-coloured maps. (Minor loss to corner of frontispiece and first text leaf, neither affecting printed area, small loss to lower left corner of Tabula Russiae not affecting printed area, minor repairs to margins of 3 text leaves, one map lightly browned). Van der Krogt, 2: 641.2
Volume III [Germany and Austria]. Parte del Atlas Major, o Geographia Blaviana: que contiene las cartas, y descriptiones de Alemania. 1662. Engraved title and 96 hand-coloured maps. (6 maps lightly browned, 5 maps and several leaves with margins lightly dampstained). In common with the volumes at the Bibliotheca Nacional, Museo Naval and the Library of Congress, it does not include the dedication. Van der Krogt, 2: 641.3
Volume IV [Netherlands and Belgium]. Paises Baxos, o Belgia, dividida en dos partes: la primera contiene las provincias que obedecen a la Magistad Catholica de los Reyes de Hespaña. En la segunda se descriven Las Regiones Confederatas. 1663. Two engraved pictorial titles and 63 hand-coloured maps. (7 maps browned). Like the volumes in the Museo Naval and the Library of Congress, it does not include the dedication. Van der Krogt, 2: 641.4
Volume V [England and Wales]. Nuevo Atlas del Reyno de Inglaterra. 1648 [but 1659]. Engraved pictorial title, 59 hand-coloured maps and 3 views, including an additional (uncoloured) duplicate map. (5 maps lightly browned, some text leaves lightly spotted and browned.) Similar to the volume in the Museo Naval, it features a letterpress title over a title page bearing the imprint of 1648. Van der Krogt, 2: 641.5
Volume VI [Scotland and Ireland]. Nuevo Atlas de los Reynos de Escocia e Yrlanda. 1662. Engraved pictorial title and 55 hand-coloured maps. (Light browning to 25 maps, 185mm. tear extending into image on map of Evia et Escia, repaired marginal tear to 2 maps, minor loss to corner of text leaf, p. 21) First state of the Spanish text, printed directly on map versos. Van der Krogt, 2: 641.6
Volume VII [France and Switzerland]. Atlas Major, o Geographia Blaviana: que contiene las cartas, y descriptiones de Francia, y Helvetia. 1668. Engraved pictorial title and 69 hand-coloured maps. (20 maps browned.) Includes three additional maps not present in many copies. Van der Krogt, 2: 641.7
Volume VIII [Italy]. Parte del Atlas Major, o Geographia Blaviana: que contiene las cartas, y descriptiones de Italia. 1669. Engraved title and 61 hand-coloured maps. (4 maps heavily browned, intermittent areas lightly browned, some margins lightly dampstained.) Van der Krogt, 2: 641.8
Volume X [China and Japan]. Atlas Nuevo de la Extrema Asia, o Description Geographica del Imperio de los Chinas; Por el R.P. Martino Martinio, de la Compañia de Iesu. 1659. Engraved frontispiece and title, 17 hand-coloured maps. (Maps and text leaves throughout lightly browned, margins of latter text leaves lightly dampstained.) Van der Krogt, 2: 641.10
Together 9 volumes (of 10), 2° (577 x 380mm). Two engraved allegorical frontispieces, 6 engraved pictorial titles, 4 engraved titles, 519 maps and plates mounted on guards, most double-page, some folding, full-page or within text, all coloured throughout in a contemporary hand, with frontispieces heightened in gold. Contemporary Dutch red morocco gilt, covers with double fillet border, triple fillet panels with floral corner-pieces, spines in eleven compartments with raised bands and repeated floral ornament, gilt board and page edges, remains of silk ties (extremities rubbed, covers scuffed). Provenance: sold Christie's London, 15 November 1978, lot 154, 'Property of a Gentleman'.
A DELUXE COPY OF THE SPANISH EDITION OF THE ATLAS MAIOR, in contemporary red morocco with exceptionally fine contemporary colouring. The Atlas Mayor (the Spanish edition of the Atlas Maior) is the rarest edition of what De la Fontaine Verwey called "the greatest and finest atlas ever published". Van der Krogt locates only four institutional copies, printed in 1672 or earlier, with at least this degree of completeness. According to ABPC, only three copies including the present one have appeared at auction in the last thirty years.
The Atlas Maior is the epitome of decades of achievement by the Blaeu family. Published in five languages (Latin, Dutch, French, German and Spanish) from 1662, it grew to eleven or twelve volumes in its most comprehensive editions, and was as Koeman observes a "costly atlas ... exclusively designed for those members of the patriciate who could command both the material and intellectual resources that were needed to buy and appreciate it". Jan's father, Willem Blaeu, commenced publication of his new world atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, also referred to as the Atlas Novus, initially in two volumes, published in four languages. After succeeding his father, Jan Blaeu progressively expanded the Atlas Novus to six volumes by 1655, and this formed the first half the Atlas Maior.
The rare Spanish edition of the Atlas Maior occupies an extraordinary place within the Blaeu epic. In contrast to the editions in other languages, its volumes were printed serially over fifteen years, printed in more limited quantity, bore different titles, and were not numbered. The genesis of this project came with the decision to produce the Spanish Atlas Nuevo, with the volume relating to Scotland first published in 1657, and that on China the following year. In 1659 the volumes relating to Northern Europe, Eastern Europe and England were produced, along with second editions of the two volumes already published. Even before Jan Blaeu had made preparations to publish the Atlas Maior in other languages, he decided to turn the extant volumes of the Atlas Nuevo into the first five volumes of the Atlas Mayor. The long process of production meant that there were variations in title and imprint, as well as the collation of specific volumes.
All issue points in the present set indicate that it was assembled before the volume for Spain (vol. IX) was first printed in 1672. Although called vol. IX, Spain was the last to be printed, and its absence here is presumably a result the fire which broke out in Blaeu's Gravenstraat workshop on the night of 22-23 February, 1672. It destroyed many of the original copperplates and printed sheets for the Atlas Mayor, and led to production of the projected eleventh volume, relating to Asia, Africa and America, being abandoned. The copy of the Atlas Mayor at the Museo Naval, Madrid, includes a vol. IX which, in contrast to the other volumes, is uncoloured and therefore thought not to have been part of the original set.
Koeman I, BL 60A (pp. 271-291); cf. A. Berkhemer, 'De Spaanse Atlas Mayor van Blaeu: nieuwe gegevens', in Caert-Thresoor 16 (1997) 3, pp. 71-76; H. De la Fontaine Verwey, The 'Spanish Blaeu,' in Quaerendo 11 (1981), pp. 83-94.