1606. Americae Sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio [English Edition!]

  • Americae Sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio  [English Edition!]

Americae Sive Novi Orbis Nova Descriptio [English Edition!] information:

Year of creation: 
Resolution size (pixels): 
 12810x9758 px
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Print information. Print size (Width x height in inches):
Printing at 72 dpi 
  177.92 х 135.53
Printing at 150 dpi 
 85.4 х 65.05
Printing at 300 dpi 
 42.7 х 32.53

The English Edition in Full Original Color!

Fine old color example of the rare English language edition of Ortelius' map of America.

Offered only in 1606 in an edition of 300 copies, the English edition of this map is highly prized among collectors, both for the numerous important firsts associated with this edition of Ortelius' map and the English text on the verso, which was separately set and printed in London. The English edition is rare on the market, even more so in such exceptional early color.

The First Appearance of Chesapeake Bay On A Printed Map

Ortelius' map of the Americas is quite likely the most influential and widely circulated map of the Americas published in the 16th Century. Both in its original form and as copied by other important mapmakers, including in the Petri editions of Munster's Cosmography, the European view of America in the late 16th Century was almost certainly informed by this map.

The present example is the "so-called" third edition, being the third iteration of Ortelius's map of America, each having utilized a different copper plate.

Importance Of the Third Edition

The success of Ortelius' Theatrum meant that his map of America was one of the most widely circulated maps of America, of the period, and would have therefore had a profound impact on the European vision of America in the 16th century. Ortelius's ability to locate and draw upon Spanish and Portuguese sources is apparent throughout the map, and is quite remarkable, given the manner in which those nations guarded their cartographic information. This third edition incorporated several highly important new discoveries.

The first appearance of the Chesapeake Bay on a map: The inclusion of a large inlet in the east seaboard of North America, labeled with the Indian name "Wingandekoa", reflects the earliest unsuccessful attempts by the English to colonize the Outer Banks of present-day North Carolina.

The first appearance of the Solomon Islands on a map: While the islands were first discovered by Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira in 1568, they did not appear on a printed map until Ortelius's third Americas map.

New toponyms have been added in California: Ortelius adds the name "California". He also adds "Cab. Mendocino", which was discovered by Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo in 1542. "R. de los estrechos" is added.

Cartographic Sources

The primary source for the map is Gerard Mercator's 1569 wall map of the world. According to Brandmair, Ortelius's revisions for the third plate were probably spurred on by the publication of Giovanni Mazza's map of the Americas, published in Venice by Rascicotti in 1583.

The Three Editions

Ortelius's map of the Americas first appeared in the 1570 edition of Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. It went through three major revisions, as noted in Van Den Broecke. This is Ortelius's third plate, most easily recognized by the lack of a large westward bulge in the west coast of South America. There are two recorded states of the third plate of Ortelius's map of the Americas. This is an example of the first state.

State 1. Standard issue, present in editions of the Theatrum from 1587 to 1612. (The second plate shows up in a few examples of the 1587 Theatrum.)

State 2. Present only in post-1612 atlases, probably revised circa 1628. This state adds Tierra del Fuego and Fretum le Maire, removes the date. Extremely rare; only seven examples traced by Burden.

Abraham Ortelius

Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) was, along with Gerard Mercator, the most important cartographer of the 16th century.

He was born in Antwerp to a family with connections in printing and publishing. Ortelius's uncle, Sir Jacobus van Meteren, took over the role of raising Ortelius after the latter's father had died.

In 1545 at the age of 18, Ortelius began his career as a map colorist. His sister Anna was also an accomplished colorist. He entered the Guild of St. Luke as a colorist two years later, and in 1547, he was registered as a colorist with the publisher Plantin.

In 1564, Ortelius published his first map, a large wall map of the world titled "Typus Orbis Terrarum". Today the map is known in only one example. Between 1564 and 1570, Ortelius made at least six single and multi-sheet maps of his own.

1570 was the year Ortelius first published the book that would become his defining masterwork: the first true modern atlas of the world, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

In 1575, with the recommendation of Arias Montanus, Ortelius was appointed geographer to the King of Spain, Philip II.

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum

The present map comes from Abraham Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (or "Theater of the World"), which is widely considered to be the first true modern atlas. The Theatrum was the best available summary of 16th-century cartographic knowledge, covering much of the exploration of the world in the century following the discovery of America.

The atlas was first published in 1570 in Antwerp, and it was published consistently until 1612. Recent research has unearthed examples of the atlas with maps dated to 1640.

Ortelius was the artist of all of the maps; he drew them by hand, and those drawings were interpreted into prints by his engravers Frans Hogenberg, Ambrosius Arsenius, and Ferdinand Arsenius.

The broad appeal of the Theatrum saw demand from many consumers who preferred to read the atlas in their local language. Thus, in addition to Latin, the book was published with text in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and English.

After Ortelius's death in 1598, the copper plates for his atlas passed to his heirs. They, in turn, sold the collection to Jan Baptist Vrients (1522-1612) in 1601. Vrients added new maps and published the atlas until his death in 1612. Vrients's widow then sold the plates to the Moretus brothers, who were the successors of Christoffel Plantin.

Ortelius map of America is without doubt one of the most recognized and influential maps of America of the period. The map first appeared in the 1570 edition of Ortelius' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. This example is state three, with the bulge in South America removed and additional sailing ships added in the Pacific Ocean and a cartouche has been added in North America. The map is most notable in that it is believed to be the first appearance of Chesapeake Bay on a map, appearing as an inlet just above an Indian name Wingandkoa, which reflects early English efforts at Colonization in the Outer Banks of the Carolinas. The nomenclature in California is also updated and improved. The map is one of the most influential maps of the 16th and early 17th Centuries, having had a profound impact on contemporary American Cartography. Ortelius' ability to locate and draw upon Spanish and Portuguese sources is apparent throughout the map, and remarkable, given the manner in which each nation guarded its cartographic information.


This example is from the rare English edition of Ortelius' atlas, published in 1606. This the third example of the English edition we have offered for sale over the past 25 years.

Van Den Broecke 11, Burden 64; Schwartz & Ehrenberg 69.

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Abraham Ortelius.

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