Copperplate engraving (1st state). Later hand colouring.

Amsterdam, 1599.

This important map by Petrus Plancius (1552-1622), engraved by Dutch master Jan van Doetecums, holds the distinction for being the first map of the world with highly decorative borders, a style which would be copied for more than a century following its publication. The borders include scenes from Europe, Asia, Mexicana, Peruana, Magalanica and Africa. Plancius took inspiration from drawings done by de Bry a few years earlier, and established a tradition that would be the standard for decades to come. Plancius himself encouraged three voyages of William Barents (1594‑1597) in the area. By depicting Novaya Zemlya as an island with open sea between it and the Artic, Plancius gave cartograpohic encouragement to Dutch crews.

SKU SF001634 Category


This new world map by Petrus Plancius was first issued separately in 1595 and later incorporated into editions of Linschoten’s ‘Itinerarium’from 1599 onwards. It was engraved by Jan van Doetecum, a craftsman of great skill whose signature appears in the lower left-hand corner and who was associated with a number of Plancius’ maps. The two terrestrial hemispheres are based on those in Plancius’ earlier world map of 1590, updated by geographical detail and with the addition of two celestial spheres from his large wall map two years later.

This map from Linschoten’s ‘Voyages’ combines the skills of two of the most respected map makers and engravers of the day. It is the first map to use elaborate pictorial borders representing the peoples, animals and environment of foreign parts. It established a tradition which was maintainws by most Dutch map makers throughout the next century and by numerous others of various nations over the next two hundred years. In each corner are female representations of the four continents: Europe, an elegant crowned figure holding cornucopia and a sceptre, a helmet, a lute and symbols of wisdom at her feet; Asia, an elaborately robed figure seated on a rhinoceros and holding an incense burner, a casket of baubles at her feet; Africa, an almost naked figure riding a crocodile armed with bow and arrows; America, entitled Mexicana, an Amazon figure seated on an armadillo.

The first Dutch landfall in Australia was not made until 1606, so that Magellanica was still filled with details drawn from the, by then, centruies old stories of travellers like Marco Polo and Lodovico di Varthema – note Marco Polo’s ‘Lucach’, ‘Beach’ and ‘Maletur’.

Additional information



Petrus Plancius