By: Blaeu / Valck
Date: 1695 (circa) Amsterdam
Original Size: 16 x 21 inches (40.4 x 53.6 cm)
This is a vintage reproduction of a marvelous polar projection, by Blaeu / Valck. The map was published in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in Vienna, Austria in the year 1571.
This is a scarce early impression of a world map originally produced by the Blaeu Family, but ultimately published by Gerard Valck. Shirley notes that "the projection used - two north and south polar views, each extending to the equator - is not a common one and it has been suggested that Blaeu intended this special map for the Spanish edition of the Atlas Major which was never completed." An unfortunate fire in 1672 destroyed the Blaeu Company and the atlas was never completed. The plate for this map was recovered by Valck and published circa 1695 in his own atlas. In early impressions such as this one, the imprint from the original Blaeu plate can still be seen in the lower cartouche.
The most significant geographical feature of this map is the depiction of California as an island. While there had been numerous maps depicting California as an island before this one, it is the only example by Blaeu to do so. Throughout their existence, the Blaeu Company had consistently projected North America with California attached and the coast jutting to the far northwestern reaches of the Pacific. In this example the northern Pacific includes the land and Strait of Anian and just east of Tartaria, a partial coastline of Compagnie Landt which remained in most maps of the area for around 100 years.
There are many geographic curiosities throughout the map that are worth noting. An early delineation of the Great Lake of North America can be seen by the incomplete large body of water just west of Virginia. In South America, there are two mythical lakes “Parime Lacus,” and “Lago de los Xarayes,” that remained for over 100 years. An incomplete Australia is depicted as being completely attached to New Guinea (labeled Terra dos Papous), while the islands of Tasmania and New Zealand are shown as nothing more than a speculative coastline.
Below the map are two beautifully engraved scenes of Adam and Eve. To the left, Adam is shown resting on a cliff’s edge with eve appearing out from his hip, looking to the heavens. Just right of the decorative cartouche is a scene showing Adam naming the animals. Above the map are animated engravings of the sun and moon with a figure of a sphere centered under the bannered title. Adorning the map are several compass roses and sailing ships.