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 Insula - ..
This large composite map (19 1/2" X 13 15/16") was probably designed and engraved by Mercator for the 1595 issue of Atlas part III. The present item seems to have been printed for a 1609 French version produced by Jodocus Hondius.
From the top left, clockwise, the insets show:
- The Jamaica Island (influence of Gastaldi: see the spelling for the town of Sevilla la Nueva).
- The Cuba island, (the west coast delineation is very influenced by the Langenes earlier work), with a high level of citification. Of note: the town of S. Cristophori is in fact the early town of La Havana (which was moved to its present location in 1519).
- 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.
- Santo Domingo (or Hispaniola), also with a large number of population centers. Notice on the north coast the town of Natividad, built in 1492 by Colombus with the timbers of its wrecked Santa Maria, and abandoned the following year to the profit of Isabella further east, in turn abandoned in 1498 to the profit of the new capital city: San Dominico (Santo Domingo).
- Margarita (or Margareta), then a jumping point to the fabled "El Dorado"..
- Puerto Rico (or S Ioannis), with only one town: S Ian de Porto Rico.
French text on verso.