ORTELIUS, Abraham. Theatrum orbis terrarum. [Antwerp: Plantin, 1595.]
3 parts in one volume, comprising modern maps; the Parergon; and Nomenclator, 2° (470 x 300 mm). Text in Latin. Engraved allegorical title, engraved portrait, and 147 hand-colored double-page maps, most by Frans Hogenberg, mounted on guards, woodcut border surround to the “Parergon” title, ALL FINELY COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. (Some minor browning and staining mostly to margins and versos of maps, a few corners or short marginal tears repaired, some light staining and ink stain to allegorical title border, small abrasion to image of India map 108.) Contemporary Dutch vellum gilt (rebacked in vellum, some minor staining). Provenance: Alderman of the Flemish town of Kermt, date 1670 (ownership inscription on title partly vanished).
SUPERBLY COLORED COPY OF ORTELIUS' ENLARGED THEATRUM, ASSEMBLING 115 UNIFORM MAPS OF THE WORLD AND 32 MAPS OF THE ANCIENT WORLD, INCLUDING THE MOST RENOWNED CARTOGRAPHERS OF THAT PERIOD
The last and most complete edition of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum published during Ortelius’s lifetime. First published in 1570, the Theatrum orbis terrarum is universally recognized as the first modern atlas. It was the most authoritative and successful of such works during the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries and it made Abraham Ortelius one of the most prominent geographers of his time. The atlas is the first to contain maps printed in a uniform style and format and to display a catalogue of the authors whose source Ortelius used in the drawing of the maps. "It was the Atlas of the Renaissance par excellence, embodying and expressing as it did the spirit of free inquiry that characterized the age"(Penrose, Travel and Discovery in the Renaissance, p.324).
"The publication of [the first edition] of this atlas marked an epoch in the history of cartography. It was the first uniformly sized, systematic collection of maps of the countries of the world based only on contemporary knowledge and in that sense may be called the first modern atlas" (Tooley). Ortelius amassed a large private collection of maps and corresponded with most map-makers and map-sellers in Antwerp and abroad. This enabled him to compile the "Atlas of the Whole World" from the best available sources. His list of contributors, which included not only the authors of the original maps but other cartographers and geographers as well, has been of particular value for historians of cartography. The engraved allegorical title with its five female figures representing the five continents (one a mere bust, symbolizing the mostly unexplored continent of "Magellenica," i.e. Antarctica), contains what is "probably the earliest allegorical representation of America" (Koeman).
The Atlas includes Ortelius' famous world map: "Typus Orbis Terrarum," followed by his map of the Americas "Americae Sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio," (dated 1587, Ortelius’ third plate), maps of Asia, Africa, Europe and numerous regional maps. Burden 39 and 64; Koeman III, Ort 29; Phillips 374; see PMM 91 (1570 edition); Sabin 57693; Shirley 122; Tooley Maps and Map-Makers p.29.