Leen Helmink Antique Maps

America by Blaeu




Americae nova Tabula Auct. Guiljelmo Blaeuw


Amsterdam, 1617


41.0 x 55.5 cms


Copper engraving

Stock number





$ 5500


"The New World. Originally issued by Willem Blaeu as early as 1617, this general map of the Americas was one of the longest-lived plates in the atlas, having been used as an atlas map since 1630.

Here is the general seventeenth-century European view of the Western Hemisphere: the delineation of the coast and the nomenclature of the Pacific as well as the Atlantic coasts are basically Spanish in origin and follow the maps of the Fleming Abraham Ortelius and his countryman Cornelis Wytfliet. To These, Willem Blaeu inserted, on the east coast, the English names given by the Roanoke colonists in Virginia and by Martin Frobisher, John Davis and Henry Hudson in the far north. In Florida and along the St Lawrence, Blaeu added the names given by the French settlers, almost the only memorials of their ill-fated venture in Florida during the latter part of the sixteenth century.

When Blaeu first made his map in the early years of the seventeenth century, Europeans still had no real knowledge of the nature of the Mississippi system. From the expedition journals of Hernando de Soto (1539-1543), they had inferred an extensive range of mountains trending east-west to the north of the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in 'la Florida', apparantly precluding a great river system.

The Great Lakes were, as yet, unknown, although by the time Blaeu issued this map in its atlas form in the 1630s, Samuel de Champlain's travels in the Huron region together with his hearsay accounts from Coral Indians were becoming well-known through his 1632 map of the region. Evidently, this appears to have been unknown to Blaeu at the time, but surprisingly, he never incorporated the information on later printings of the map! The same applies to Manhattan and Long Island as well, despite the fact that only a small distance from Amsterdam, the Leiden academic Johannes de Laet had published the first edition of his monumental work on the Americas which provided source materials for any number of maps of the Americas throughout the remainder of the century and beyond.

In common with the other general continental maps in the atlas, Blaeu has provided perspective plans or views of settlements in the Americas, including Havana, St Domingo, Cartagena, Mexico, Cusco, Potosi, I. la Mocha in Chile, Rio Janeiro and Olinda in Pernambuco, as well as the vignette illustrations of native figures taken from the accounts of John White (Virginia) or Hans Staden (Brazil) and others."


"BlaeuÔÇÖs maps set the standard for the ÔÇ£carte ├í figuresÔÇØ style. Of all world and continents sets, BlaeuÔÇÖs stands out as the finest in quality, both in aesthetics and relative geographical accuracy. To a very large extent, the Dutch Golden Age of Cartography was epitomized in the maps of Willem Blaeu. Praise of these maps has not been restrained. The world map has been acclaimed as "one of the supreme examples of the map maker's art." (Shirley) Goss hails the Americas map, saying "this magnificent map sums up the general European view of the Western Hemisphere in the early seventeenth century." Well after the rest of the mapmaking community had accepted the California-as-an-island canard, BlaeuÔÇÖs maps stubbornly insist on CaliforniaÔÇÖs true, peninsular nature."