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“First Printed Map to be Devoted to the Pacific Ocean” (Burden)

A Peninsular California—1589


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347.     [MAP]. ORTELIUS, Abraham. Maris Pacifici, (quod volgò Mar del Zur) cum regionibus circumiacentibus, insulisque in eodem passim sparsis, novissima descriptio [lower left, dedication cartouche] Spe et metu. Genio et ingenio nobili Dn. Nicolao Roccoxio, Patricio Antverpiensi, eiusdemqve urbis Senatori, Abrahamus Ortelius Regiæ Mts. geographus lub. merito dedicabat. 1589 [lower center] Cum privilegijs Imp. & Reg. Maiestatum, nec non Cancellariæ Brabantiæ, ad decennium [Latin text on verso, commencing] Mare Pacificum siue del Zur…. [pen and ink signature “6” at lower right below text]. Antwerp, [Plantin Press], 1589 [1590-1592]. Copper-engraved map of the Pacific Ocean showing part of America, southeast Asia, New Guinea, and Terra Australis, on paper watermarked with crossed arrows, full contemporary color, Latin text on verso (with initial letter “H” colored in pink, green, and yellow), large dedicatory cartouche at lower left with ornamental strap work, banners, strings of beads, human and lion heads, cartouche at top right with strap work and ornamentation, three ships at sea (including Magellan’s surviving ship Victoria with scene of warfare and a guiding angel on her prow), stipple-engraved seas, neat line to neat line: 34.2 x 49.3 cm. Fold at center where formerly inserted in atlas, otherwise very fine, superb coloring, excellent impression of one of the most beautiful and important of old maps.

     First state (with date 1589 in lower left cartouche); first issue, Latin text on verso, with signature mark “6” in pen and ink at lower right below text on verso. The map first appeared in 1590 in Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Additamentum IV without any signature mark. In the second printing of the Additamentum, the signature “6” was added in pen and ink. In the next edition of Additamentum (1595), the text page was reset and the signature “6” was added in print. Six editions appeared in Latin (1590-1609), two in German (1591 and 1602), and two in Spanish (1602-1612).

     Burden 74 (noting this issue with signature “6” in pen and ink):

One of the most important maps that appeared in the Ortelius atlases, this was the first printed map to be devoted to the Pacific Ocean, the discovery of which is remembered by the depiction, with legend, of Ferdinand Magellan’s ship the “Victoria.” Being one of Ortelius’ most desirable maps combined with the fact that it was not issued in the atlas until 1590, it is not as available as the various versions of his map of America.

     Casten, Richard & Thomas Suárez, “A Revised Chronology for the Mapping of America in the Late Sixteenth Century: Hogenberg, Mazza, Ortelius” in The Map Collector (1995), No. 70, pp. 26-30. Goss, Mapping of North America 14. Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici, Vol. III, pp. 52-53, Ort 25, No. 124. Krogt (editor), Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici, New Edition, Vol. III, Part A, p. 93, No. 31:041 (noting the signature “6” in pen and ink, as in the Yale copy). Nebenzahl, Compass 45:14: “One of the earliest maps to differentiate by name North from South America.” Portinaro & Knirsch, The Cartography of North America, Plate XLIX. Sabin 57697 (apocryphal entry for 1589 Theatrum). Suárez, Thomas, “Early Mapping of the Pacific Ocean” in The Map Collector (1983), No. 22, pp. 2-9. Tooley, Landmarks of Mapmaking, pp. 198, 200. Van den Broecke, Ortelius Atlas Maps 12. Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America, p. 289, No. 156 & pp. 72-76: “Constitutes a distinct departure, being unlike any map of the northwest coast published before 1589. The peninsula is named Cali-formia…. The Gulf of California is of an entirely different form” (includes an interesting discussion of sources, with a chart comparing place names and the initiation of a new line of imaginary geography). Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #24 & Vol. I, p. 25 (illustrated).

     Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), “the most influential mapmaker in history” (Cohen) is credited with the creation of the first modern geographical atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), a work which he continued to revise and update with new maps, such as this one. “It was engraved at a time of increasing activity in the Pacific with the English having recently begun raiding the Spanish galleons carrying the gold of Peru up the coast to the Isthmus, as well as those making the arduous journey across from the Philippines to Mexico” (Burden).

     This map is based on Mercator’s world map (1569), Frans Hogenberg map of the Americas (1589), and details from the Portuguese manuscript maps of Bartolomeo de Lasso. The map of the Pacific Ocean presents the west coast of North America more accurately than prior printed maps. The head of the Gulf of California here is altered to introduce “R. Grande,” which is misplaced. California is shown in peninsular conformation rather than as an island. In the East, the islands of New Guinea and Japan are first depicted as closer to Asia than America.

     The Latin quatrain beneath the handsome engraving of Magellan’s gallant little mediaeval-looking ship Victoria that sailed around the world, passing through the straits to which Magellan gave his name, allows the ship to speak for itself:

     Prima ego velivolus ambivi cursibus Orbem

          Magellane novo te duce ducta freto.

     Ambivi, meritoque vocor VICTORIA: sunt mî

          Vela, alæ; precium, gloria; pugna, mare.


I it was who first circled the globe, my sails flying. You Magellan, I led to your new-found strait. It was I who circled the world; by right am I called Victoria. Mine are the sails and the wings, the prize and the glory, the struggle and the sea.


Sold. Hammer: $7,500.00; Price Realized: $9,000.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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