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1585 Islandia

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By: Abraham Ortelius
Date: 1585 (dated) Antwerp
Original Size: 13.25 x 19.5 inches (33.6 cm x 50 cm)
This is a fine reproduction of a spectacular Ortelius map of Iceland. It is a classic in the history of mapmaking, not only for its decorative appeal, but for being the first relatively accurate map of Iceland taken from indigenous sources.
Here we see Iceland depicted in minute detail with all geophysical features which were known to be extant at the time noted. Ortelius depicts mountains and volcanoes, with Mount Hekla actually erupting, with flames shooting high into the sky, and spuming volcanic material. In the upper right quadrant we see Polar Bears floating on icebergs just off the coast. Large sections and trunks of trees float off the coast. Myriad fanciful sea monsters and other creatures inhabit the seas surrounding the island. Each is assigned a letter of the alphabet and described in full detail on the verso. Iceland itself sports more than two hundred place names, probably taken from the Danish.
While containing many inaccuracies, the map, provides the first meaningful depiction of Iceland’s known settlements along with many other points of interest. It is a significant improvement over all previous maps of Iceland and thus it is believed that it was drawn by a native Icelander, probably Gudbrandur Thorlaksson, a bishop who studied mathematics and astronomy in Copenhagen. The lower right quadrant contains a dedication noting that the map is dedicated to the Illustrious Frederic the Second, King of the Danes, Norwegians, Slavs, Goths, etc., his most merciful Majesty.
Inventory #10757

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