Abraham Ortelius; 1528-1598.
Ortelius' name is often associated with Ptolemy and Mercator,
when evocating the founding fathers of cartography. Abaham
Ortel (Ortelius), born in Antwerp, trained in classics and
He became a book dealer and a map colorist. Widely traveling
to attend fairs, he befriended many literati, in his homeland
and abroad. Upon their encouragement, he engaged in 1570 in
the "Theatrum Orbis Terrarum" project, by collecting maps,
charts and plans among diverse cartographers, and having Frans
Hogenberg* re-engrave them in the same uniform size and style,
to form the first known modern Atlas (even though this term
was not used for another twenty years by his major competitor:
The Theatrum knew an immediate and lasting success, being
re-issued many times over in different languages. It always
gave credit to the sources of informations and other contributors
used to produce the maps (a practice few followed in those
Of note: the 42 editions of the "Theatrum" between 1570 and
1612, the 1577 "Spiegel der Werelt" (reduced version of the
Theatrum engraved by Philippe Galle, issued till 1585); and
the 1579 "Parergon Theatri" (historical atlas, reissued till
*Hogenberg associated with Georg Braun, was famous for their
1572 "Civitates Orbis Terrarum", a compilation of plans of
the most significant towns of the time, being recycled many
times till 1750 by Abraham Hogenberg, Frederick de Wit, Pieter
van der Aa, and Covens & Mortier.
This relatively small map (8 ¾" X 6"), drawn by Geronimo
de Chaves (see credit given in the cartouche) of the Casa
de Contratacion of Sevilla, was first printed in 1584 as an
inset on a larger map for the Additamentum III of the "Theatrum
Orbis Terrarum". The large composition map is made up of three
insets: (top right) coast of Florida, (bottom right) coast
of Texas/Mexico, (left) coast of Panama/Colombia/Ecuador/Peru.
This why this Florida map, having been cut away, has been
re-margined on the left side and on the bottom side.
Examination of the text on verso leads to conclude this specific
item was printed for the 1595 Latin edition of the Theatrum
(see Cartographia Neerlandica, ref. 15b).
The map takes into account Hernando de Soto discoveries during
his ill-fated expedition of 1539-1543 In particular, it is
one of the first maps to show some progress in the delineation
of the coast and the course of major rivers (see the Mississippi
called here Rio del Spirito Sancto).
The towns shown inland are probably main indian tribe sites
which de Soto put to porter duty contribution during his tribulations.
Of note: in present day Alabama, and quite properly located,
the "Tascalisa" township is quite reminiscent of Tuscaloosa,
But it does not show the discoveries made by the French explorers
and colonists (namely in South Ca rolina, and specially around
the Saint John River where the very first French colony on
US soil was established by René Goulaine de Laudonière in
1564). Neither does it mention Saint Augustine (first buit
by Pedro Menendez de Aviles in 1565, as the Spanish base of
attack against the French settlement).
Fascinating detail: on the Florida Atlantic coast, the "Cabo
de Cañareal" (may be named after the presence of (sugar?)
canes), gives a hint to the origins of the name of present
day Cape Canaveral. Latin text on verso.