1589. Totius Orbis Cogniti Universalis Descriptio . . . Ao. M.D.LXXXIX

  • Totius Orbis Cogniti Universalis Descriptio . . . Ao. M.D.LXXXIX

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Totius Orbis Cogniti Universalis Descriptio . . . Ao. M.D.LXXXIX

Fine Dutch World Map Employing the Projection of Marinus of Tyre

This is a fine example of Cornelis De Jode's rare and highly sought after 1589 map of the world. In Gerard De Jode's first atlas of 1578, he produced a world map which does not appear in his son Cornelis De Jode's re-issue of the atlas in 1593. In its place, there are two world maps, this map of the world and a polar hemispheric projection, based upon Guillaume Postel's map of 1581.

According to Shirley, the map's rectangular projection is generally credited to Marinus of Tyre, with geography based on Gerard Mercator's world map (1569) and Abraham Ortelius' (1570). For example, in the Arctic region are four large islands, a geographical hypothesis suggested by Mercator.

To continue in the Polar Regions, the map shows a very clear Northwest and Northeast Passage. The Dutch were expanding east in the late sixteenth century in search of access to the spice trade; a northern passage to Asia was as tantalizing then as it is today. The East Indies themselves still show the influence of Marco Polo, as there is both a Java maior and a Java minor, farther to the south.

This second Java is set near a massive unknown southern continent. There are several rivers and labels on this mythical landmass, including one referencing Pisatcorum regio. This toponym, which means region of the parrots, appeared on Mercator's 1541 globe and his 1569 world map in approximately the position De Jode has it. It was supposed to have been sighted by Portuguese sailors.

The Americas take much from Ortelius for their shape. An elaborate note in the interior credits Columbus with the discovery of America, in 1492. The Americas are also the focus of a hemisphere in the upper left corner, while the eastern hemisphere, showing the Old World, is in the upper right. Both of these are on Roger Bacon's circular projection, as Shirley explains.

The map has a decorative border of bars and circle embellishments running all the way around the map. The same border repeats in the rectangular cartouche that contains the title. There is a note in the lower right-hand corner stating that Corn: de Iudoejs of Antwerp made the map in November 1589, at the Academy of Douai. In the lower left, however, a small note says that Cornelis' father, Gerard de Jode engraved the map. However, the map was not published until two years after de Jode the Elder's death, indicating that the project was perhaps started by the Elder and finished by the Younger.

Marinus of Tyre

As mentioned above, while the map appears to utilize something similar to a Mercator projection, which first appeared in 1569, the rectangular projection is more accurately attributed to Marinus of Tyre (AD 70-130). Marinus was a Greek geographer and mathematician during the Hellenic period. He is widely acknowledged as the founder of mathematical geography, particularly the use of meridians and parallels, and is credited with developing the underpinnings of Claudius Ptolemy's Geographia. For example, Ptolemy followed Marinus in placing the Prime Meridian at the Fortunate, or Canary, Islands.

Interestingly, we only know of Marinus's geographical work from commentary by Ptolemy in the Geographia and other commentaries. According to him, Marinus introduced improvements to the construction of maps and developed a system of nautical charts. Marinus estimated a length of 180,000 stadia for the equator; this corresponds to a circumference of the Earth of about 20,700 miles, or about 17% less than the actual value. Both Marinus' and Ptolemy's measurements were used by Columbus when he calculated his own circumference of the globe.

Marinus also actively compiled the works of early travelers, although Ptolemy thought him a bit too willing to believe fantastic stories. His maps were the first in the Roman Empire to show China. Marinus also coined the term Antarctic, referring to the opposite of the Arctic Circle.

The De Jode atlas

This map appeared in the second edition, or re-issue, Gerard De Jode's atlas, Speculum orbis terrae (first edition Antwerp: 1578) . Gerard De Jode (1509-1591) released his atlas in a golden age of Dutch atlas production: the first atlas was released in 1570, also in Antwerp, the first town atlas in 1572, the first pocket atlas in 1577, the first regional atlas in 1579, the first nautical atlas in 1584, and the first historical atlas in 1595. The first atlas was Ortelius' Theatrum orbis terrarium, and De Jode's was intended as competition for Ortelius'. Mercator was also preparing an atlas at the time, and corresponded with Ortelius, but it would not appear in full until 1595, a year after Mercator's death.

Although the Speculum was ready as early as 1573, it was not published until 1578. This is most likely due to Ortelius' influence and his privilege over atlas publishing, which expired just before De Jode finally published. The atlas was the result of collaboration between De Jode, the geographer Jan van Schille of Antwerp, German physician Daniel Cellarius, and the etchers Joannes and Lucas van Doetecum.

Although never as successful as Oretlius' Theatrum, the Speculum did get republished in a second edition in 1593, two years after De Jode's death, by Arnold Coninx, and included this map. After his death, Gerard's son, Cornelis (1568-1600), and his wife, Paschina, ran the shop. Unfortunately, Cornelis died young in 1600, aged only 32, and the stock and plates were sold to the publisher Joan Baptista Vrients. Vrients had also recently purchased the plates for Theatrum, giving him a monopoly over Antwerp atlas publication. Vrients acquired the De Jode atlas plates only to suppress them in favor of the Ortelius plates, thus the De Jode atlas maps are quite rare on the market today.

Shirley 165. George E. Nunn, “Marinus of Tyre's Place in the Columbus Concepts,” Imago Mundi 2 (1937): 27-35. Cornelis Koeman, Gunter Schilder, Marco van Egmond, and Peter van der Krogt, “Commercial Cartography and Map Production in the Low Countries, 1500-ca. 1672,” in History of Cartography, vol. 3, part 2 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), 1296-1383.

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Year of creation:
2606x1914 px
Number of pages:
Cornelis de Jode.

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