Leen Helmink Antique Maps

America Virginia by Blaeu

Cartographer

Blaeu

Title

Nova Virginiae tabula

Published

Amsterdam, 1630

Size

37.5 x 48.0 cms

Technique

Copper engraving

Stock number

18563

Condition

excellent

Price

$ 2250

Description

"Although this map of the Chesapeake Bay region bears the name of Willem Blaeu, it comes from one of the plates Willem purchased from the plate stock of Amsterdam publisher Jodocus Hondius the younger in 1629. Blaeu then issued the map in his 'Atlantis Appendix' in 1630, and in most editions of the firm's atlases thereafter.

The map is a version of the one made in 1612 by the Englishman, Captain John Smith. Smith's map was the first to depict with reasonable accuracy Chesapeake Bay with its tributaries and became the accepted prototype map for most subsequent maps of the colony published either in England or in continental Europe during the remainder of the seventeenth century. Captain Smith's map acted as a promotional piece for that vast area of North America called Virginia and it exerted a great influence on the history of English colonization in America.

John Smith (1579-1631) was the foremost English settler in Virginia. His many adventures included being captured several times, defeating an Indian chief in hand-to-hand combat as well as the celebrated incident in which Pocahontas saved him from being killed by Powhatan, who is himself the subject of the portrait engraved at the upper left-hand corner of Blaeu's map.

While the geographical detail of the map shows information accurate at the time of Smith's travels, earlier descriptions of Virginia are recalled. When Smith's map appeared in 1612, the engraver turned to an engraving by the German Theodor de Bry based on the drawings made by John White in the 1580s for the portrait of Powhatan, and the figure of an Indian in war paint at the right to represent the Susquehanna chief. All of these elements were combined by the Amsterdam engraver Dirk Grijp for the Dutch version of Smith's map by the Hondius firm in 1618. Thus, when Blaeu purchased the plate it was already a decade old and it was issued unchanged except for his imprint and a few very small retouches until the 1660s. The Blaeu derivative was the most popular version of Captain Smith's map published during the seventeenth century."

(Goss).