ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Theatrum orbis terrarum. – Parergon. – Nomenclator ptolemaicus. Antwerp: Plantin Press, 1584.
A finely coloured copy, profusely highlighted in gold, of the world's first atlas. Ortelius' masterstroke with the Theatrum was to provide, in a single volume, accurate modern maps in a uniform, regularised format, together with explanatory text. It was the most expensive book of its day, and yet also one of the bestsellers, going into 37 editions and 7 languages. This is the third edition with the text in Latin, published by Plantin who took over the publication of Ortelius' landmark atlas in 1579. 'Plantin printed slightly fewer than 800 copies of this edition' (Van der Krogt). It consists of the Theatrum (100 maps), the Parergon, the atlas of ancient geography (12 maps) and the Nomenclator. This publication is considerably enlarged since the editions of 1570 (originally with 53 maps), and that of 1573 (originally with 70 maps). The maps and plates in the Parergon may be considered 'the most outstanding engravings depicting the wide-spread interest in classical geography in the 16th century' (Van der Krogt). Shirley BL, T.ORT–1aa; Van der Krogt 31:031.
3 parts in one volume, folio (444 x 281mm). Latin text. Engraved allegorical title, full-page portrait of Ortelius, letterpress title to Parergon within woodcut frame, 112 engraved maps, all on guards, most double-page, large Plantin device on Nomenclator title, all coloured by a contemporary hand (engraved title and A2 strengthened, map 21 Poictou with some short marginal tears two of which repaired, very small marginal chip to map 39 Zelandicarum Insularum, very short marginal tear to map 43 Frisiae Orientalis, map 70 Patavini Territorii with marginal tear, repaired marginal tear to map 81 Schlavoniae, Croatiae ... descriptio, map 91 Russiae with marginal tear and traces of adhesion, occasional light browning, heavier to maps 55, 56 and 94). Contemporary (?publisher’s) panelled calf, central gilt arabesque and cornerpieces, gilt gauffered edges (lower cover and head cap worn with defective areas and heavy rubbing, rear hinge sometime repaired, and large engraving of the late 5th-century ivory Boethius Diptych now preserved in Santa Giulia City Museum on rear pastedown). Provenance: stamps removed on second and final leaves and recto of map 57, repaired with old paper and not affecting images or text.