Gerard Mercator

Gerard Mercator

Gerard Mercator is one of the most famous cartographers of all time. Mercator was born in Flanders and educated at the Catholic University in Leuven. After his graduation in 1532, Mercator worked with Gemma Frisius, a prominent mathematician, and Gaspar a Myrica, a goldsmith and engraver. Together, these men produced globes and scientific instruments, allowing Mercator to hone his skills.

With his wife, Barbara, Mercator had six children: Arnold, Emerentia, Dorothes, Bartholomeus, Rumold, and Catharina. In 1552, Mercator moved to Duisburg from Leuven, where he lived for the rest of his life. In 1564, he was appointed the official cosmographer to the court of Duke Wilhelm of Cleve.

Mercator’s most important contribution was the creation and popularization of a projection which now bears his name. On Mercator projection maps, all parallels and meridians are drawn at right angles to each other, with the distance between the parallels extending towards the poles. This allowed for accurate latitude and longitude calculation and also allowed navigational routes to be drawn using straight lines, a huge advantage for sailors as this allowed them to plot courses without constant recourse to adjusting compass readings.

Mercator’s other enduring contribution to cartography is the term “atlas”, which was first used to describe his collection of maps gathered in one volume. The Mercator atlas was published in 1595, a year after Mercator’s death, thanks to the work of his sons, particularly Rumold, and his grandsons.


1730 - Orbis Antiqui Tabulae Geographicae Secundum Cl. Ptolemaeum, cum Indice Philologico absolutissimo...

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Nice example of the last edition of the Mercator/Ptolemy atlas, with engraved frontispiece, and 28 double-page engraved maps. "All maps, except the world map, have a graticule and the matching letters in the border added. For one map (Europe 7)...


1578 - Universalis Tabula Iuxta Ptolemaeum

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Striking example of Mercator's map of the World, based upon the writings of Claudius Ptolemy, from a later edition of Gerard Mercator's Tabulae geographicae CI. Ptolemaei ad mentem autoris restitutae et emendatae per G. Mercatorem. This is the...


1578 - Universalis Tabula Iuxta Ptolemaeum

  • $14.99

Gerard Mercator's Map of the World, Based Upon The Work of Claudius Ptolemy Gorgeous example of Mercator's map of the World, based upon the writings of Claudius Ptolemy, from a later edition of Gerard Mercator's Tabulae geographicae CI. Ptolemaei ad...


1610 - Exquisita & magno aliquot mensium periculo Lustrata et iam retecta Freti Magellanici Facies . . .

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Nice example of this important early map of the Straits of Magellan, predating the discovery of the Straits of Le Maire. Mercator's map is the earliest map of the Straits of Magellan to appear in a commercial atlas. It is also a rare example of a...


1620 - Fretum Magellani

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Striking map of the Straits of Magellan, with a large decorative compass rose. The map appeared in an early edition of the Mercator Hondius Atlas Minor.


1619 - Eboracum Lincolnia, Derbia, Staffordia, Notinghamia, Lecestria, Rutlandia, et Norfolcia

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Decorative early map of the northeast of England, comprising the counties of Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Staffordshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Rutland and Norfolk. From Mercator's Atlas Sive Cosmographia, first published in 1595....


1619 - Anglia Scotia et Hibernia

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Fine old color example of Mercator's map of the British Isles, which appeared in his Atlas Sive Cosmographia. One of the most influential maps of the British Isles during the late 16th and early 17th Century.


1595 - Westmorlandia, Lancastria, Cestria, Caernarvan, Denbigh, Flint, Merionidh, Montgomery, Salopia, Cum insulis Mania et Anglesy

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Decorative regional map of Northwestern England, the Isle of Man, Angelsey and part of Wales. From Mercator's Atlas Sive Cosmographia . . .


1610 - Scotiae Regnum

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Striking full color example of Mercator's 2-sheet map of Scotland. Includes a decorative cartouche and fine early detail. One of the earliest obtainable maps of Scotland.


1595 - Irlandiae Regnum

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Old color example of Mercator's map of Ireland, which first appeared in the 1595 edition of Mercator's Atlas. A striking old color example.


1619 - Irlandiae Regnum

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A beautifully detailed 2 sheet map of Ireland from an early edition of the Mercator-Hondius Atlas Sive Cosmographia. Fine dark image with a sea monster and sailing ship.


1619 - Geldria et Transysulana

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Nice old color example of Mercator's detailed regional map of the Central Netherlands, from Mercator's Atlas Sive Cosmographia.


1619 - Zelandia Comitatus

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Old color example of Mercator's map of Zeeland.


1698 - Tab IV Europae, Germaniam et Galliam Belgicam exhibens . . .

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Attractive map of Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and Belgium, on the Ptolemaic model. Mercator originally published this map in his 1578 edition of Ptolemy's great Geography. The present example is the second edition of the map, first issued in 1698....


1619 - Trier & Lutzenburg

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Nice old color example of Mercator's detailed map of Trier and Luxembourg.


1619 - Helvetia cum finitimis regionibus confoederatis

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Nice old color example of Gerhard Mercator's detailed map of Switzerland, from his Atlas Sive Comographie . . . , the first book of maps to include the title of "Atlas." One of the earliest maps of Switzerland to appear in a modern atlas.