ORTELIUS, Abraham (1527-1598). Americae sive Novi orbis, nova Descriptio.[Amsterdam]: Abraham Ortelius, 1587.

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Original copperplate (12 4/8 x 19 inches). UNIQUE AND EXCEPTIONALLY FINE ENGRAVED COPPERPLATE of America on an oval projection, with the title in an elaborate cartouche lower left, and the ocean decorated with many ships and a sea-monster, surrounded by a decorative border (Some scratches and scuff marks, old repair to top left of the cartouche).


First issued in 1570, Ortelius's America 'was widely sold throughout Europe and had a great influence on the future cartography of the New World'. In the present copperplate, the outlines of South America are considerably improved and, without the bulge in Chili, are much closer to those recognised today. It almost but not entirely corresponds to the third issue of the map [Burden 64], which was the first to carry the cartographer's name. The small differences lie in an error to '270' degrees longitude here engraved '70', and in the historiated ornament at the corners. No antiquarian map issued from this plate is known. However the map published in the 1579 edition of Theatrum orbis terrarum contains the same error in numbering, and this error was presumably copied. The use of two different plates in the printing of maps is not unusual, but the differences are generally more important. We are grateful to Marcel van den Broecke for his help with this catalogue description (see also his article on this copperplate, published in Map Forum, 2005, VII, pp. 28-32). Catalogued by Kate Hunter