Superb reduced version of the second state of Mercator's famous North Pole map. It depicts the region between the pole and the Arctic Circle. This is one of the most intriguing early maps, combining medieval geographic concepts with some of the most advanced cartography of its day. The North Pole is shown as a rocky island surrounded by 'indrawing seas' between four huge islands. The map shows an awareness of recent discoveries, including those of Frobisher and Davis, as well as the northern sea passage through America to Asia. It is a striking example of baroque engraving, with the map set off by the roundel title cartouche and inset maps of the Faeroes, the Shetlands and the mythical Frisland in the corners, and framed by a border of interlocking acanthus designs. Latin text on verso.

Excellent hand colour

Mint condition

References: Burden #154; Kershaw #26.

code : M4695

Cartographer : Mercator

Date : 1608 Amsterdam

Size : 14*18.5 cms

availability : Available

Price : £495

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Originally a student of philosophy Gerard Mercator (1512-1594). He became an expert in land surveying and cartography, as well as a skilled engraver.His first maps were published in 1537 (Palestine), and 1538 (a map of the world), although his main occupation at this time was globe-making. He later moved to Duisburg, in Germany, where he produced his outstanding wall maps of Europe and of Britain. In 1569 he published his masterpiece, the twenty-one-sheet map of the world, constructed on what is now known as Mercator's projection.

It was during this period, while teaching cosmography at Duisburg, that Mercator realised the pressing need for a modern collection of maps to supersede the Ptolemaic atlases. This project was gradually expanded to be a complete description of the Universe, both heaven and earth, with other volumes on the Creation, Genealogy and History and a Chronology. The description of the earth was to be in two parts, a modern geography and a Ptolemaic atlas, a massive and over-ambitious project. In fact, only the Chronology and the Ptolemaic Geographia were completed in his lifetime, and it was left to his son, Rumold, to complete and publish the world atlas in 1595. Entitled Atlas, sive Cosmographicae Meditationes de Fabrica Mundi, this was the first time the name "Atlas" was applied to a bound collection of maps, and, like Mercator's projection, has remained in everyday use to this day.

After Rumold's death in 1599, the plates for the atlas were published by Gerard Jr. Following his death in 1604, the printing stock was bought at auction by Jodocus Hondius, and re-issued well into the seventeenth century.

The Atlas Minor was reprinted,reengraved by many 16th century Dutch cartographers including Cloppenberg, Jansson etc.