America sive India Nova ad magnae Gerardi Mercatoris aui Universalis…


An uncommon map of the Western Hemisphere with contemporary manuscript notes.

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This richly engraved map of the Western Hemisphere was published in Amsterdam as part of Mercator’s Atlantic Paris Altera. It was originally issued by Michael Mercator in Duisberg in 1595, the year after Gerard’s death, though the image shows geographic information dating to a decade earlier. According to Burden;

“After the death of the great Gerard Mercator in 1594 it was left to his son Rumold to publish the last of three parts that formed his famous atlas, the Atlantis Pars Altera. The atlas was finished with a number of maps engraved by various descendants of Gerard. The task of the American map was given to his grandson Michael. The only printed map known to be by him, it is beautifully engraved…It is a hemispherical map contained within an attractive floral design, and surrounding by four roundels, one of which contains the title. The other three contain maps of the Gulf of Mexico, Cuba and Hispaniola, all spheres of Spanish influence.

The general outline is largely taken from Rumold Mercator’s world map of 1587, with a little more detail added. A few of the most famous theories are still present: a large inland lake in Canada, two of the four islands of the North Pole, a bulge to the west coast of South America, and the large southern continent. It does not show any knowledge of the English in Virginia, which is possible a reflection of their failure by then. A large St. Lawrence River is shown originating half way across the continent.”

In addition to showing spurious geographic information, phantom islands in the Pacific, and fantastical places like the mythical golden city of Quivira, the map also presents numerous annotations that provide supplemental details. References to the first voyage of Christopher Columbus in 1492, Magellan’s discovery of the vast southern continent in 1519, and Andrea Corsali’s expeditions in Southeast Asia are just a few examples.

The verso, with text in Latin, includes numerous underlined passages and marginal notes written in old ink, indicating the map has been heavily studied for centuries. Here we can also find identifying characteristics (page 39, numeral I at the bottom) that identify this particular example as an edition published between 1607 and 1612.By this time, the plates had been sold to Jocodus Hondius, who published Mercator’s atlas in Amsterdam beginning in 1606. An excellent map capturing many cartographic myths of early American cartography and a prime example of how the Mercator family influenced contemporary geography well beyond the life of the patriarch, Gerard.

Source: Burden 87

Map Details

Publication Date: c. 1610

Author: Michael Mercator

Sheet Width (in): 21.60

Sheet Height (in): 18.2

Condition: A

Condition Description: A crisp, dark impression on a strong sheet. A bit of creasing and wear visible along the vertical centerfold, including about 3" of separation that has been repaired on the verso with archival tape. Light spotting confined to the margin and very faintly in the bottom half of the image. Bits of old tape on the verso from where previously framed, and light matte burn as a result. The verso includes numerous areas reflecting old manuscript annotations in Latin, including underlined passages of text and marginal commentary on political organization, early explorers, and more. Some ink shows through the margins as a result.


1 in stock