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 travelling
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.
Culiacanae, Americae regionis, descriptio.
Hispaniolae, Cubae, aliarumque insularum circumiacientum,
This double map (together 19 ¼" X 13 13/16") was designed
by Ortelius and engraved for the 1579 edition of the Theatrum.
The present item was printed for the 1592 issue and is known
as the second state (hachuring on Mexico west coast is twice
as long as in the first state).
One of the most famous maps of Cuba and its vicinity, it presents
a few unique features;
- longitudes are not shown west of Ferro Island (the westernmost
Canary island) as it was customary at the time. As explained
in the upper left cartouche, longitudes are given west of
Toledo, as calculated by Ortelius himself.
- on both maps, the tropic line is misnamed" Capricorni".
This error was not removed until the 1595 edition of the atlas
where both lines are correctly called Tropicus Cancri, or
Tropic of Cancer.
The Mexico map mostly shows today's state of Sinaloa with
its principal town: Culiacan Rosales. The coastal islands
are quite well depicted, but Villa S Michaelis is not identifiable.
The Caribbean islands map is also remarkably accurate.
Notice Puerto Rico, here named S Ioannis (San Juan). Its main
town to the north is Portus Riccus (rich harbor),.. which
in time will be renamed San Juan, while the island name will
switch to Puerto Rico. San German, port town used by Ponce
de Leon in 1513 to discover Florida, has been abandoned and
relocated inland after having been pillaged by pirates.
Jamaica appears also with a low population density, but both
Hispaniola and Cuba seem already heavily citified.
Santiago (S Iacobi) is still rivaling Havana and Santo Domingo,
judging by the size of the icons representing them.
On the east side of Florida, "the Bahama current (the Gulf
Stream) always flows northward"..
Latin text on verso.