Mercator 1595

365mm x 465mm

Atlas sive Cosmographicae 1595

Atlas sive Cosmographicae

Gerard Mercator had published the first part of his great Atlas in 1585, which contained only national maps of the British Isles. When the third part was published by his son Rumold in 1595 (Gerard having died in 1594) he added five regional maps of England, most of which were signed "Per Gerardum Mercatorem Cum Privilegio" - implying Gerard himself had completed these plates. The eastern England plate is entitled: Warwicum, Northhamtonia, Huntingdonia, Cantabrigia, Suffolcia, Oxonium, Buckinghamia, Bedfordia, Hartfordia, Essexia, Berceria, Middelsexia, Southhatonia, Surria, Cantii & Southsexia. This plate is not signed by Mercator (unlike the other regional plates), and is based on Saxton's wall map of England and Wales from 1583.

This plate with its selection of counties is itself used, amended or copied from for the next 150 years or so.

The map is described as being Angliae VI Tabula, with two pages of Latin text. The map has no page numbers, but does have latitude and longitude marked: London is shown at longitude 20o40' east (Mercator used St Michael in the Azores for his Prime Meridian - which is now known to be 25o40' west of London). There is an ornamental cartouche (in the style used by Van den Keere) in the North Sea, with the list of county names inside a central circle. The

seas are shaded with a shot silk effect, with additional medium density horizontal shading on the off-shore side of the coast that obscures no names. There is no name in the North Sea (the cartouche taking up most of the space), but the English Channel is named as Oceanus Britannicus off Sussex. Many towns and some villages are named in Essex (including Walden and Newport).

This version of Warwicum ... is used in subsequent issues of the Atlas - in Latin, French, Dutch and German - which had further maps of the British Isles progressively added. The editions included: Latin 1595, 1607 (edition seconda, published by Jodocus Hondius), 1613, 1616, 1619, 1623, 1630 (edition decima), 1631; French 1628, 1633 (published by Hendricus Hondius, adds a map of the Fens), 1635; German 1633; Dutch 1634.

Jodocus Hondius the elder died in 1612; initially his sons Jodocus (the younger, died 1624) and Henricus (died 1651) took over the business, but Henricus on his own from 1622, and then Henricus plus Jan Jansson the younger (Henricus's brother in law) from 1633. See Mercator-Hondius 1636 for the revised version.

Displayed scale of 22 "Milliaria Anglica magna" = 64mm or 8.7 magna miles/inch, and also 20 "parva" = 51mm or 10.0 parva miles/inch; scale actual = 9.7 (statute) miles/inch, or 1:620,000.

© Peter Walker 2015