Maps by the De Jode family are highly coveted for the rarity of their atlas, originally published as Speculum Orbis Terrarum, by Gerard de Jode in 1578. Cornelius, Gerard’s son, re-issued the atlas in 1593 with the title Speculum Orbis Terrae, and ten new copperplate engravings, including this map of Africa, which Cornelius prepared to replace the map of Africa used in the 1578 atlas, which followed the work of famed Venetian cartographer Giacomo Gastaldi. After the premature death of Cornelius, the copper plates were sold to Jan Baptist Vrients, the publisher of Ortelius’ atlas, who acquired them merely to stop their re-issue, adding to their rarity today.
Africae Vera Forma, et Situs (The true shape and situation of Africa) is a finely-executed copperplate production. The title, placed at the top in large lettering, is flanked by intricate jeweled strapwork bands. Balancing out West Africa on the right side of the page is a text box with seventeen lines of descriptive text about Africa. The map is richly adorned with ships and sea monsters and various vignettes scattered across the map.
As usual for contemporary maps of Africa, there is a significant gap between the accuracy and detail of the coast, and the lack of detail and invention of the interior of the continent. This map retains the coastal outline from Gastaldi, with the interior based primarily on Mercator’s world map of 1569. This is most evident in the river systems, including Sachaf lac as the source of the Zabere (Zembere), Cuama and R. d S. Spirito rivers in southern Africa. The map also incorporates information from Ortelius, including the placement of Zanzibar on the southwest coast.
Verso Text: Latin