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Florida et Alpache: Wytfliet 1597

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  • Title: Florida et Alpache
  • Author: Cornelis Wytfliet
  • Date: 1597
  • Medium: Copperplate engraving
  • Condition: Wide margined example, contemporary red ink at marginal extremities, mild age toning, a tiny marginal chip, scattered unobtrusive stains. An excellent example.
  • Inches: 11.4 x 9 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 28.96 x 22.86 [Image]
  • Product ID: 315097

Descriptiones Ptolemaicae Augmentum, the only known geographic work by Cornelis Wytfliet, was published in Louvain in 1597. Regarded as the first atlas of America, the work contains eighteen regional maps of the New World, including Wytfliet’s map of the lands north of the Gulf of Mexico, titled Florida et Apalche. This chart was clearly plagiarized from Ortelius's La Florida (published in his Theatrum of 1584), which had been designed for Ortelius by Spanish geographer Gerónimo de Chavez. With access to all official reports of the Spanish explorers, Chavez's map recorded the discoveries of Cabeza de Vaca, De Soto, and Moscoso.

The Chavez map published by Ortelius was one of the earliest printed maps of the territory based on actual observations. However, its reproduction in Wytfliet’s popular work helped to correct the previous imaginary concepts of the area. Wytfliet’s depiction of the Florida peninsula differs in shape from the Ortelius in that it is more rectangular and has a pronounced neck; the source for this delineation is a mystery. This is the only state of the map known and all issues are without text on the back.  

Although Wytfliet ‘s body of work contributed relatively little to early geographical knowledge of the New World, he based his text on many published accounts of explorations available in the Netherlands in the last decade of the sixteenth century. His maps, therefore, reflect this eclectic array of sources. As a compiler instead of a creator, he produced an excellent summary of everything then known in the Spanish Netherlands concerning the New World.