Willem Blaeu world map could show the way to $20,000 next week

Old World Auctions' latest sale is almost upon us, and boasts a typically impressive range of maps of all different kinds: Europe, the United States, the Arctic, Africa, the Caribbean - even some of the heavens.

There is a clear highlight from a particular mapmaker whose name will be familiar to collectors: Willem Blaeu.

This is Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica ac Hydrographica Tabula, a 1635 hand-coloured map of the world featuring a carte-a-figures border with allegorical representations of the sun, the moon, the five known planets, the four elements and the four seasons.

Along the bottom are vignettes showing the Seven Wonders of the World: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, the Colossus straddling the harbour at Rhodes, the Pyramids, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus at Cairo, the Temple of Diana, the Statue of Jupiter and the lighthouse at Alexandria.

Willem Blaeu Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica map
Willem Blaeu Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Geographica map

Josua van Ende engraved this map, reducing it from Blaeu's 1605 wall map for inclusion in atlases and Petrus Plancius' world map of 1592 was the main source of geographical information.

The map is shown on Mercator's projection with a massive Southern Continent attached to New Guinea, with the coastal names of Beach and Psittacorum Regio noted from MarcoPolo's travel memoirs.

North America has the westward bulge characteristic of the time, with the Strait of Anian noted. Korea is shown as an island and Japan is in a kite-like shape.

The map itself is richly decorated with cartouches, sea battles, monsters and compass roses, and boasts wonderful colour with slightly uneven toning. Classed as B+ condition, it is expected to sell for $17,000-20,000 in the online auction which concludes December 7.


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