HONDIUS, JODOCUS and JEAN LE CLERC. Americae novissima descriptio. [Paris 1602?]. Engraved map, single sheet, 373 x 507 mm. (14 11/16 x 19 7/8 in.), skillful repairs along center fold, 2 or 3 other very small internal and a few marginal repairs, a few thin areas reinforced with patches on verso. Engraved map of the Americas, title dated 1589, signed "I. Hondius inven., I. le Clerc excud. 1602", embellished with sea creatures and ships. Burden 145.
VERY RARE. Little is known about the circumstances of the execution of this handsome map, other than the fact that it was engraved by Jodocus Hondius for the Parisian publisher and engraver Jean Le Clerc. The map was part of a separately published set of maps of the world and four continents (cf. Shirley 233); the world map is also dated 1602, but the American sheet is the only one to bear the date of 1589 (no states other than the present doubly dated version are known). "Was it published in London in 1589 during Jodocus Hondius' period of residence there, or engraved in Amsterdam for publication in Paris, 1602?" (Burden). The cartography of the map would have been outdated in 1602 and is in fact geographically more primitive than that of other maps engraved by Hondius during the period 1595-1598. "It would seem unlikely for any cartographer of Hondius' stature to produce a map that was out of date and entitle it America newly described... All of these [three maps by Hondius, of c. 1597, c. 1597 and 1598] are more geographically advanced than the one concerned, in particular in their depiction of Japan and Newfoundland. It also bears an uncanny resemblance to the small Hondius [world] map dated 1589, most noticeably with the string of islands leading from the Strait of Magellan to New Guinea. Even the beautifully sharp engraving style corresponds to that earlier Flemish period; the distinctive method of depicting the sea is particularly typical of Hondius' earlier work. Along with the new knowledge of Japan and Newfoundland that is lacking, recent information in Canada and of the Strait of Magellan is also missing... If the map were to date from 1589 there will be a few questions that will remain unanswered, the largest of which will be the lack of any reference to Virginia... However, a very prominent Port Royal is shown, and if this map dates from 1589, then [it is] for the first time on a printed map" (Burden). While the cartography thus points to an earlier date of execution, the Hondius and Leclerc imprint bolsters the probability of the 1602 date: both signatures distinctly appear to have been engraved at the same time, and if Hondius had engraved the map in 1589 it is doubtful that he would have omitted to sign it. Because of the lack of any evidence other than circumstantial Philip Burden concludes that one must accept the date of 1602, leaving the many questions about the map unanswered.