Hand coloured copper engraving. Antwerp

The first printed map to be devoted solely to the Pacific, and the first to name North and South America separately. It includes most of North and South America, with a vast Terra Australia Sive Magellanica Nondum Detecta which slopes north sharply to join with Java – a myth started by Mercator, who had misunderstood Marco Polo.

SKU SF000822 Category


Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), “the most influential mapmaker in history” (Cohen) is credited with the creation of the first modern geographical atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570). “It was engraved at a time of increasing activity in the Pacific with the English having recently begun raiding the Spanish galleons carrying the gold of Peru up the coast to the Isthmus, as well as those making the arduous journey across from the Philippines to Mexico” (Burden).

This map is based on Mercator’s world map (1569), Frans Hogenberg’s map of the Americas (1589), and details from the Portuguese manuscript maps of Bartolomeo de Lasso. The map presents the west coast of North America more accurately than prior printed maps. California is shown in peninsular conformation rather than as an island but in the East, the islands of New Guinea and Japan are first depicted as closer to Asia than America.

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Abraham Ortelius


Ink, Paper