Gerard Mercator (Kremer); 1512-1594.
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 Louvains,
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 "Geographica", 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.
Cuba Insula - Hispaniola.
This relatively small map (7 3/16" X 5 5/8") originally
designed by Mercator, was miniaturized, re-engraved and published
by Jodocus Hondius and Jan Jansson the elder, in their "Atlas
This particular example seems to have been printed for its
1609 german version.
From the top left, clockwise, the insets show:
- The Havana bay (with the delineation of the inlets generally
accepted at that time), the city itself on the river, the
forts defending the bay entrance, and what looks like gun
emplacement along the coast. - The Cuba island, (the west
coast delineation is very influenced by the Langenes earlier
work), with a high level of cityfication (of note: the little
church icon representing the city of Havana is quite small
compared to some others, giving a clue about the relative
importance of the town at that time).
- Santo Domingo (or Hispaniola), also with a large number
of population centers. Note that the Haiti coastline on this
inset is quite different from the coast line shown on the
Cuba map.it is more in line with the Gastaldi/Ruscelli earlier
- Margarita (or Margareta), then a jumping point to the fabled
- Puerto Rico (or S Ioannis), with only one town: S Ian de
- Jamaica (influence of Gastaldi again: see the spelling for
the town of Sevilla la Nueva).
German text on verso.