ORTELIUS, Abraham (1528-98). Theatrum oder Schawplatz des Erdbodems, warin das die Landttafell der gantzen welt, mitt sambt ainer der selben kurtze erklarung zu ersehn ist. Translated from the Latin. Antwerp: Gielis Coppens van Diest for the cartographer, 1572.
Large 2o (405 x 275 mm). Collation: A6 (1r letterpress title-label mounted on allegorical and architectural frontispiece, as published, showing female figures representing the four continents and Magellanica [Antarctica], 1v quotation from Cicero, 2r dedication to Philip II of Spain, 2v Adolf van Meetkercke's Latin verse explanation of the frontispiece, 4r the cartographer's preface to the reader, 6r Latin verse by Daniel Rogers in praise of the Theatrum); 1-532 (full-sheet maps engraved by Frans Hogenberg, Ambrosius and Ferdinand Aertsen after Ortelius, all mounted on stubs as instructed to the binder in the register, letterpress text on recto of the first leaf of each bifolium); a4 (1r author's epilogue to the reader, 1v index, 3v register, colophon, royal privilege, approbation, 4 blank). 116 leaves, including 53 DOUBLE-PAGE ENGRAVED MAPS (one of the world, 4 of the continents including AMERICA, 3 of Asian countries, 4 of the Middle East and one of North Africa). Various sizes of roman, italic and gothic types, decorative initials. (Faint, unidentified armorial library stamp on A2r, some finger soiling on lower outer corners.) Contemporary fawn calf over pasteboard, triple fillets around the sides with arabesque center- and corner-ornaments silver-gilt (mostly oxidized), floral tool in compartments of spine, original endpapers, (minor wear, spine-ends defective, ties gone). Provenance: two early shelf-marks. Bought at Hartung & Karl, Munich, 3rd June 1975, lot 629.
FIRST AUTHORIZED GERMAN EDITION of the first uniform world atlas, created for commercial purposes by Ortelius from the vast heterogeneous mass that made up the cartographic canon in his time. "The true measure of Ortelius's achievement was the practical success of his atlas. It convincingly demonstrated his belief that no literate person should be without a knowledge of geography If every home now owns an atlas of some sort, it is due ultimately to the conviction and example of Ortelius" (PMM 91). He published the Latin first edition in 1570 and dozens of editions in various languages followed in quick succession. In the same year as the present edition Johann Kler in Nuremberg brought out a pirated edition by buying up Ortelius maps in loose sheets and printing a German text of his own on the blank reverse.
Two states of the title are known for this edition, one as given by Koeman, the other (as here and in the Royal Library copy in Brussels) printed on a slip and pasted over the engraved Latin title. The paper is typically thick and strong, such as was furnished to Coppens for other editions of Ortelius's atlas. In 1573 Ortelius issued a supplement for the German edition, Ein Zusatz bei dass Theatrum (Koeman Ort 6), which is sometimes (but not here) bound up with this edition or has the 16 maps inserted in the places indicated by their numbers. A VERY FINE, CRISP AND UNRESTORED COPY, in its original Flemish or German binding. Alden & Landis 572/40 (wrong leaf count); Koeman (1st ed.) Ort 5.