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Old color uncommon second plate of Ortelius's famous map of the Western Hemisphere.

Place/Date: Antwerp / 1579
Title: Americae Sive Novi Orbis, Nova Descriptio
51 x 37 cm (20 x 14.5 in)
Old color
Condition Rating


A derivative of Mercator’s large map published the year before, this is the second plate of Ortelius’s map of the Americas, with the ship in the Pacific sailing eastward.

This plate had a short life of only 8 years. It was replaced in 1587 or slightly later by a third plate, which no longer shows the bulge in South America’s west coast.

‘Americae sive Novi Orbis’ provides a reasonably accurate outline of North America and improves on the representation of the St. Lawrence River that Ortelius made on his world map. However, the map shows a very narrow Pacific Ocean and situates New Guinea due south of California. Ortelius also locates Quivira too far to the west seeming to have relied on Francisco López de Gómara’s popular Historia general de las Indias (1552).

The map depicts Anian, a mythical kingdom that Marco Polo mentioned in his travel accounts. Before it appeared in America on this map, Anian was generally believed to be located off the coast of north Asia. Curiously, Ortelius’s great world map published just six years earlier located Anian on the Asian mainland.

Ortelius was one of the first cartographers outside of Spain to adopt the place-names designated by the Spanish explorers de Niza, Coronado, and Cabrillo. The map therefore provides more detail compared to other contemporary maps.

Latin text on verso. Watermark: two crossed arrows.


Abraham Ortelius

Abraham Ortelius was a cartographer and geographer, conventionally recognized as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). He was one of the most notable figures of the Dutch school of cartography during its golden age (approximately 1570s–1670s).

Condition Description

A double-page engraved map with two minor paper repairs in the margin and a small lower centerfold repair. Paper slightly age toned. Overall in good condition.


Van den Broecke 1579L(B)5 - 250 copies printed.

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