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“The first printed real map of New Spain” (Wagner)


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271.     [MAP]. BLAEU, Willem Jansz. Nova Hispania, et Nova Galicia. [key, scale, and attribution at lower right] Notarvm Explanatio… Milliaria Hispanica. Guiljelmus excudit. [Amsterdam, 1643-1650]. Copper-engraved map with partial contemporary color, elaborate cartouche at top right (Arms of the Spanish Monarchy under the House of Austria, with lion wielding a long sword and a sphere adorned with a cross, flanked by couple wearing togas: man holding a parrot at left, lady en deshabille with snake at right, below are two sphinxes); key surmounted by two cavorting putti and armadillos; compass rose and two sailing ships in the Pacific Ocean. Neat line to neat line: 38 x 50 cm; overall sheet size: 48 x 58.4 cm. Text in French on verso (Nouvelle espagne), pp. [10]-11, signature L on p. 11. Old tape along blank margins on verso, a few minor fox marks, otherwise fine with generous margins. Matted, glazed, gilt frame.

     This map is from the French edition of Théâtre du Monde ou Nouvel Atlas (1643-1650). It first appeared in 1579 in Ortelius’ Additamentum (Koeman, Ort 14A) and immediately achieved archetypal status, being the basis for subsequent depictions of Mexico for over a century. Krogt (editor), Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici, New Edition, Vol. II, p. 159, No. 9510:2:212-3 (noting signature on page 11). Mapoteca Colombiana, p. 36 (#14). Phillips, America, p. 405n. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 119 (citing original appearance in 1579): “The first printed real map of New Spain.”

     This highly decorative map presents the interior of New Spain, on the west with the Pacific Coast of Mexico between approximately latitudes 23 to 17 degrees (north of Mazatlán to below Acapulco), and on the east from Guachichiles (Durango) to south of Mexico City, the latter of which is shown on its former expansive twin lakes. Located are Spanish strongholds, towns, villages, Native American settlements, lakes, rivers, and other geographic features. Spanish missions are marked with cathedral icons. Silver and gold mines are located.

     At a time when little detail was shown in maps of America or maps were strewn with imaginary fragments of the ever fertile European imagination, this map, as Wagner so aptly states, is a “real” map of New Spain, being crowded with a multitude of actual towns, cities, and place names. Cline (The Ortelius Maps) suggests Duran or Chaves may have drawn this prototype delineation for Ortelius.

     Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) was one of the leading map makers in the seventeenth century. At one time he served as Hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company. Blaeu founded the firm in 1596 and soon expanded to publishing maps and geographical works. His firm’s Atlas Major was the most expensive book printed in the seventeenth century, with almost six hundred double-page maps. The Blaeu firm epitomized the Golden Age of Dutch cartography. After his death, his sons continued the firm, which lasted more that forty years.


Sold. Hammer: $475.00; Price Realized: $570.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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