METELLUS, Johannes (also Jean MATAL, c.1517-1597). Speculum orbis terrae. Oberursel: Sutor, 1602.
First edition of one of the rarest early world atlases by one of the modern masters of cosmography, read by Walter Ralegh and his contemporaries along with the works of Mercator, Ortelius, Muenster and Merula. Minute details of a vast array of provinces are displayed, in the wider context of continents and the globe itself, in a conscious display of fine geographic knowledge. Metellus, a French jurist and geographer who, forty years earlier, had met Abraham Ortelius and the publisher Christophe Plantijn, and had begun contributing to the key cartographic works of the time, including an improved edition of Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Michael Eitzinger's Leo Belgicus, and Braun and Hogenburg's Civitatis Orbis Terrarum. Metellus was at the centre of the formation of contemporary cosmographic and geographical knowledge, amongst other things acting as Mercator’s information source on Mexico. Indeed, this copy includes several extremely rare North American maps, including Americae sive Novi Orbis proximarumque. regionum orae descriptio known in only other 3 other examples, all in Germany (Dresden, Mainz and Munich; Burden I, 146). There is also only the second printed map devoted to the Pacific, Maris Pacifici vulgo Mar del zur Terra Australis sive Magelanica (Burden I, 122).
There is evidence that this atlas was used by a contemporary reader who was aware of advances in cartographic knowledge. The map Chinae Regnum has the Korean peninsula sketched in red crayon, which is consistent with other red underlinings throughout the books. Western knowledge of Korea was in its infancy at this time: the Rughesi 2-sheet map of Asia of 1597 is the first printed map to definitively show Korea as a peninsula, while the Vrients world map in Linschoten's Navigatio ac itinerarium (Shirley World 192; see lot 9) dating from 1599, is a close second. One of these two maps is probably the source of this annotation.
This posthumously-published atlas gathers the map collections pertaining to individual continents and islands which Metellus had published in the previous few years, beginning with Europe and ending with the Insularium. Each of the parts is exceptionally rare its own; to have the complete atlas is almost unheard of. We are aware of portions of the atlas, such as the Islands, Africa and an incomplete America on the market, but we have been unable to trace another complete atlas at auction or in the trade. Meurer MET 11 (see also MET6-10); Shirley World 190.
5 vols in one volume, folio (279 x 196 mm), comprising: Europa, Asia, Africa, Insularium [Islands], and America. Engraved portrait of the author on title, 261 copper-engraved maps on double-page sheets with text printed on verso, complete as per Meurer’s collation, maps 38, 39, 41, 71, 124 and 159 partly coloured in contemporary pencil and 119 – Alsatia inferior – wholly coloured, several bearing a few red pencil underlinings (lower margin of title excised and repaired partly touching a couple of letters of the index at the verso, further skilful repair to the central part of the title and a few initial map reinforced near the gutter, some waterstaining to maps 9, 10 and 28, maps 32, 33, 34, 63, 74-89, and 151-153 a little browned, a few scattered spots or small blemishes). Contemporary calf, panelled sides with blind-stamped rolls, fleurons, fleurons and centrepieces, blind-stamped fleurons to the spine (rebacked with the substantial remains of the original spine laid on, wanting catches and clasps, corners repaired, extremities rubbed, sides scratched). Provenance: a few contemporary and near-contemporary scattered marginalia denoting an interest in the German and Italian areas – contemporary red underlinings and annotations to maps and text – Christoph Wenzel Graf von Nostitz (1648-1712, his engraved exlibris on the front pastedown).