Selling price: $350
Sold in 2010
For nearly sixty years, during the most important and exciting period in the story of modern mapmaking, Gerard Mercator was the supreme cartographer, his name, second only to Ptolemy, synonymous with forms of map projection still in use today. His influence transformed land surveying and his research and calculations lead him to break away from Ptolemy's conception of the size and outline of the continents, developing a projection that drastically reduced the longitudinal length of Europe and Asia and altered the shape of the Old World as visualized in the early 16th century. Although not the inventor of this type of projection, Mercator was the first to apply it to navigational charts in such a form that compass bearing could be plotted on charts in straight lines, thereby providing seamen with a solution to an age-old problem of navigation at sea. Mercator's innovations, including the aptly named Mercator projection, continue to be employed in maps produced today, 400 years later.
The geographer died in 1594 after publishing just a few parts of the atlas that he had spent decades preparing. In 1604, after the death of Gerard's son Rumold, the plates for his maps were sold to the great Amsterdam cartographer, Jodocus Hondius, who brought out the first of the so-called "Mercator-Hondius" editions in 1606. Hondius supplemented the original 107 maps with 39 new maps compiled under his own supervision, bringing the total number to 146, and had the original text expanded by Petrus Montanus. The new maps were of extremely high quality, and were for the most part devoted to parts of the world, such as America, that had been neglected by Mercator.
Hondius's first edition of the general atlas proved instantly popular, selling out within a year. Hondius continued to augment and perfect the atlas over the following years, constantly adding new maps and incorporating new discoveries and corrections.
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