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America Septentrionalis: Jansson 1641

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  • Title: America Septentrionalis
  • Author: Jan Jansson
  • Date: 1641
  • Medium: Hand-colored copperplate engraving
  • Condition: Very Good Plus - delightful contemporary color with the most harmonious and mellow age toning. Stunning example
  • Inches: 18.4 x 21.7 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 46.74 x 55.12 [Image]
  • Product ID: 315102

Influential map of North America asserting European territorial claims first published in the 1636 Latin edition of Gerard Mercator's Atlas. It was not until the 1641 edition of the Atlas Novus that Jan Jansson added his own name to the plate. The map represents the popular mid-seventeenth-century European conception of the continent, with a good general outline that lacked internal details. Although great progress had been made in mapping the Northeast with the explorations of Henry Hudson and Samuel de Champlain, the lack of information in the Southwest reflected the Spanish lack of consolidation in their New World realm, as well as their reluctance to convey what knowledge they did have to the world at large. Jansson was an extremely influential publisher, and this depiction of the continent indicates the best in contemporary cartography during the period prior to the great French cartographer Nicolas Sanson.

The Mississippi, which had not yet been fully explored, appears as a large network of small rivers emptying into the Baya de la Sp. Santo, located far to the west of the river’s actual mouth. The place names along the Texas coast are the same as those shown by Ortelius over fifteen years earlier, while a fanciful image of a buffalo obscures the lack of any interior detail. The Real de Nueva Espana, representing the site of Santa Fe, is carefully situated in the upper course of the Rio Del Norte; however, that river, confused with the Colorado of the west, is shown emptying into what should be the Gulf of California. California itself is depicted as an island, a popular misconception which adorned maps of North America for more than a century beginning in 1622. A legend in the northwest portion of the map assigns the origin of this aberration to a Spanish map captured by the Dutch. The legend, along with the title cartouche, cover the complete absence of any depiction of the Northwest coast.

In 1604, Jodocus Hondius, an Amsterdam map and instrument maker with a reputation for his magnificent wall maps, purchased the plates to Gerard Mercator‘s Atlas. Within two years, he had issued new editions of the great master’s works, continuing to publish updated and expanded versions of the Atlas for a number of years. When Hondius died in 1612, his flourishing publishing house was inherited jointly by his sons Jodocus II and Henricus, and by his son-in-law Jan Jansson. These three continued to expand and issue editions of the Atlas, and in 1635 began planning for a totally new work. In 1638, Jansson assumed control of the firm and issued his Atlas Novus, which, though based on Mercator's concepts, was executed according to Jansson’s own ideas. The new work enjoyed a reputation almost equal to that of Mercator‘s, and continued to be published after Jansson’s death in 1664.