Americae Sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio.


A desirable example of Ortelius’ important map of the Western Hemisphere.

1 in stock

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This is the first state of the third plate of Ortelius’ important map of the Americas, published in Antwerp in the 1603 edition of his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Often considered to be the earliest “modern atlas,” the Theatrum was first issued in 1570 and consisted of seventy maps and accompanying text covering the known portions of the globe.

Ortelius was one of the first mapmakers to create his plates by hand in a uniform manner and carefully cited his sources; incorporating new geographic knowledge and developing the framework for the cartographic cannon of the 16th and 17th centuries. The work would continue to be published until 1612, ultimately in over thirty editions across seven different languages. The impact of the maps by Ortelius on European geographic understanding cannot be overstated, and his work would be reflected in subsequent cartography well into the 17th century.

This particular example is focused on the Western Hemisphere, and shows wildly distorted North and South American continents (though the latter has been corrected from previous states), as well as as a mythical southern continent – Terra Australis. This is the first edition to show the place name “California” and the first Ortelius map to locate the Solomon Islands. Elsewhere, the map shows numerous place names related to the ongoing process of colonization and exploration undertaken by the Portuguese, French and Spanish.

Decorative elements in the form of sailing ships, an strapwork cartouche, and a large sea monster reflect the status of Theatrum as a luxury item for the wealthy, rather than a typical day to day publication which would likely not feature such unnecessary excess. Latin text on verso. References: Burden 64. Van den Broecke 11.1.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1603

Author: Abraham Ortelius

Sheet Width (in): 23.75

Sheet Height (in): 18.50

Condition: A-

Condition Description: A few small spots of scattered foxing and faint soiling visible in the margins, and two small spots near the vertical centerfold. Scattered damp stains along the extreme lower edge, well away from the image. Two small strips of archival tape on the verso from where the map was previously matted and framed. The binding strip on the verso has caused the centerfold to faintly lighten, but otherwise the image is in excellent condition. A bold impression with exquisite hand color on thick, watermarked paper. An excellent example of this rare, desirable map.


1 in stock