Gerard Mercator (Kremer);
Arnold Mercator, son; 1537-1587.
Rumold Mercator, son; c1540-c1599.
Bartolomeus Mercator, son; 1540-1563.
Gerard Mercator, grand son; c1565-1656.
Joannes Mercator, grand son; c1565-1595.
Michael Mercator, grand son; c1567-1600.
A towering figure of modern mapping, Gerard Mercator's name
is often associated in the same breath with the Alexandria
father of cartography: Claudius Ptolemy.
Above all, he is still well known for his systematic use of
a certain type of projection which permits to plot a constant
compass bearing course as a straight line on the sea charts.
He also extended his influence over the land surveying techniques,
and was very instrumental in making possible the updating
of the shape of various landmasses (unchanged since Ptolemy
described them in the second century).
Born in the Flanders, he studied astronomy and math in Louvain,
and established himself as an instrument and globe maker.
The excellence of his work brought him to the attention of
Carlos V of Spain. He then switched most of his work to the
production of maps.
Of note, his remake of Ptolemy "Geographia", and his 3 volume
"Atlas", first ever geography book known as atlas
(1585- part I, 1589-part II, 1595-part III completed and published
by his descendants).
Said Atlas plates were purchased in 1602 by Jodocus Hondius.
With his two sons Jodocus II and Henricus, he published enlarged
editions, and at a later date associated with Jan Jansson
for the same purpose. The final form being the "Atlas Novus"
by Jansson between 1638 and 1666.
A variant of the atlas, the "Atlas Minor", was published with
great success by Hondius/Jansson in 1607.
This small map (7 ¾" X 6") was prepared for the 1607 first
issue of "Atlas Minor" published in Amsterdam by Jodocus Hondius
and Jan Jansson the elder.
It is a reduction of the 1595 Gerard Mercator map, whose plate
Hondius had purchased in 1602.
Like all maps of large territories drawn with the Mercator
projection at very small scale, it exhibits serious distortion
for the regions closer to the poles.
It represents the Americas as they were known at that time,
- menacing marine monsters lunging at the ships of fearless
sailors approaching its coasts.
- the upper left mythical Strait of Anian (then thought to
connect with the famed Northwest Passage, searched for by
Martin Frobisher for many years).
- the upper right fantasy Island of Frisland.
- at the bottom, the huge Australian continent (thought to
exist so as to balance with the northern landmass for a good
Note that the Tierra del Fuego has not been circumnavigated
yet (LeMaire in 1615), and that the Strait of Magellan is
the only passage between the Atlantic and the Pacific.
Florida occupies most of the eastern Mississippi basin, and
the Louisana/Mississippi/Alabama/Florida gulf coast line.
Latin text on verso.