Cartographica Neerlandica Background for Ortelius Map No. 11(1)

image of the map

Title: AMERICAE SIVE | NOVI ORBIS, NO:|VA DESCRIPTIO. [A new description of America or the New World]. (lower right corner) "Cum Priuilegio decennali | Ab. Ortelius delineab. | et excudeb. 1587". [With a privilege for ten years, Abraham Ortelius drew and executed this map in 1587]. NOVA GUINEA. "Andre|as Corsalus Florent. videtur eam | sub nomine Terræ Piceinnacoli | designare". [New Guinea. Andreas Corsalus from Florence seems to designate the name Terra Piceinnacoli to it.] TERRA AVSTRA/LIS, SIVE | MAGELLA|NICA HAC|TENVS INCOGNITA. [The Southern or Magellanican land, as yet unknown.] (Top left:) "Vlterius Septentrionem versus hæ | regiones incognitæ adhuc sunt". [Further towards the North, these regions are as yet unknown.] (Lower centre:) "Hic vspiam insulas | eße, auro diuites | nonnulli | volunt". [Some have it that somewhere here there are islands rich in gold.] PATAGONES, | "vel" | REGIO GI:|GANTVM. [The Patagonians, or the region of giants.] (Low right:) "Arx posita hic 1582. ex man. R.M. | C. 11000 virginum". [A fortress was built here in 1582 by hand by his royal majesty, for 11000 nuns.] (Middle right:) "Porto Real ad quem | Galli mercatum | nauigant". [Porto Real, to which the French merchants sail.] (Middle right:) "Rio Maragnone | cuius ostium distat | ab ostio Amazonis | flu. 104 leucis teste | Theueto". [The river Maranhao, whose mouths are at a distance of 104 miles from the mouth of the river Amazon, as Thevetus says.] BRESILIA | "à Lusitanis Ao. | 1504. | inuenta". [Brazil, discovered by the Portuguese in the year 1504.]

Plate size: 354 x 481 mm
Scale: 1 : 40,000,000
Identification number: Ort 11(I) (not in Koeman/Meurer, Karrow, vdKrogtAN)

Occurrence in Theatrum editions and page number:

Approximate number of copies printed: none on old paper.

States: 11(1).1 as described.

Cartographic sources: Gerard Mercator's 1569 world map (Karrow 56/17, 56/18 p. 390-393, Meurer p. 38). Brandmair mentions as recent source necessitating this new plate the Americas map of Giovanni Mazza, published by Rascicotti in 1583 in Venice.

References: See and Marcel van den Broecke: Has the fourth Ortelius Americas plate ever been used? "Map Forum" issue 7, autumn 2005, p.28-30.

Since we have only seen the copperplate and possess a modern offprint from it, there is no on verso text, see further below.

In March 2005 I was approached via internet by a man living in Paris who claimed to have the copperplate of Ortelius' third map of the Americas, my Ort11. He sent a photograph of the copperplate and a recent offprint made from this plate on modern paper. Inspection of the photograph of the offprint showed that it was the first state of this map, with the Ortelius identification and date 1587 in the lower right area of the map, and without the addition of Le Maire straight and Terra Fuego. Therefore, I responded that this could not be the original Ortelius copper plate of Ort11. The copper plate was also shown to Mr. Bracke of the Royal Library of Belgium, who made the same objection on the basis of my book "Ortelius Atlas Maps" (1996) where the second state is mentioned and specified.

Since the photograph of the map suggested that this was not a crude imitation of an Ortelius copperplate, I investigated the possibility that what I so far considered as the second state of Ort11, might in fact be a new plate, in which case this copperplate might be authentic after all. Inspection of the second state or perhaps plate at the Antwerp Municipal Library, which owns a copy of the rare 1641 Spanish edition of the "Theatrum" including state 2 of the Americas map showed that this second state was not a new plate: comparison with 8 copies of my own showed that a horizontal crack developed in a copy from the 1608/1612 Italian edition, which worsened in the 1609/1612 Latin edition. This crack extended further in the 1641 Spanish edition. Therefore, the second state was indeed a second state of plate Ort11, and not a new, different plate.

The next step was to examine the plate and its offprint in Paris and see if any differences between Ort11 state 1 and this offprint could be established. So I went to Paris with some of my Ort11.1 copies for comparison. Meanwhile, the plate had been to an artist shop capable of printing from a copperplate, and two copies hgad been pulled from it.

The map turned out to be almost identical to the standard Ort11 first state except that in the longitude degrees given along the bottom of the map we find 260 70 280 instead of the normal numbers found on Ort11: 260 270 280
There are also some minor differences in the ornaments in all four corners. Assuming that this was not a crude imitation of Ort11 but has been engraved on the order of Ortelius, I have given this plate the number Ort11(1).

The plate was found in a chimney a little more than 20 years ago by the father of the present owner when he demolished that chimney in an old house belonging to his parents in La Linea near Gibraltar in Spain.

The surface of the plate is scratched in some places, probably as a result of the method of its retrieval. It has the same dimensions as the standard Ort11 and is engraved in the style typical of Ortelius plates, and apart from the missing numeral, is easily confused with Ort11.
It is obvious that this is not the plate with which Ort11.1 and Ort11.2 offprints have been made, but the resemblance is very great indeed. It cannot be established whether this plate Ort11.1 was made as a close copy of Ort11 or that Ort11 was made as a close copy of this plate Ort11.1.
Another question which is not easy to answer is why two nearly identical plates of the same area have been made, possibly around the same time, viz. 1587. In other cases where there were two plates of the same area, some of them made and/or used simultaneously there are more differences can be more easily identified (examples: (Ort29/30 Valentia, Ort44/45 Caletensium/Veromanduorum, Ort61/62 Gelria, Ort70/71 Hannonia, Ort75/76 Flandria, Ort117/118 Italy, Ort152/153 Transilvania, Ort154/155 Polonia, Ort168/169 Turkey, Ort170/171/172 Palestina, Ort178/179 Geographia Sacra, Ort182/183 Abraham, Ort194/196 Ancient France, Ort197/198 Ancient Low countries, Ort199/200 Ancient Germany, Ort204/205 Ancient Italy, Ort207/208 Ancient Toscane, Ort224/225 Erythraei). Perhaps, this plate got lost after a copy of it had been made. It is a mystery how it ended up in Spain.
I would be very pleased to hear if any more copies derived from this plate with the missing numeral have been printed in Ortelius' time. A request at the Maphist discussion group yielded no examples.

No map text available

No bibliographical sources available

No topographical names available

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