Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali, cum Terris adiacentibus

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (*1571 - 1638)
Coloured sea chart of the West Indies, Florida. Printed in Amsterdam by Willem & Joan Blaeu in 1640.

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Reference 11919



Blaeu's Striking Sea Chart of the West Indies

Hand-coloured antique sea chart of the West Indies by Willem Blaeu. With the East Coast of the Americas from Chesapeake Bay to the Orinoco. First published in Theatrum Orbis Terrarum in the year 1634. This example comes from the 1640 Latin edition. The copper plate of the map was unaltered on the different editions, only text on verso has changed. Decorated with a title cartouche with reptiles and putti, dedication and scale cartouches, galleons, rhumb lines and compass roses.

Philip D. Burden in The Mapping of North America about this map:

Cartographically the map draws on the extremely rare chart by Hessel Gerritsz, c.1631. The area of coverage is exactly the same with the exception of Blaeu's addition of the west coast of Central America. The nomenclature of the North American part is virtually identical, the only notable addition being the naming of VIRGINIA. It reflects the firsthand knowledge of Gerritsz during his voyage to South America and the West Indies undertaken in 1628. The distance between Chesapeake Bay and Albemarle Sound is accurately portrayed at 1°; even in Gerritsz's acclaimed NOVA ANGLIA ..., for de Laet, 1630, this distance is over 2°. It seems likely that a Spanish chart was used as the nomenclature along the south-east coast lacks any of the French influences often seen at the time.


CartographerWillem Janszoon Blaeu
TitleInsulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali, cum Terris adiacentibus
Publisher, YearWillem & Joan Blaeu, Amsterdam, 1640-43
Plate Size38.1 x 52.4 cm (15.0 x 20.6 inches)
Sheet Size47.7 x 56.5 cm (18.8 x 22.2 inches)
ReferenceBurden, P.D.: The Mapping of North America No. 242; Van der Krogt, P.: Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, 9600:2B


Slightly browned, somewhat stronger in margins. A few small wormholes in margins. Very good condition.


Willem Janszoon Blaeu was born 1571 in Alkmaar. He was trained from 1594 to 1596 by the famous danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. 1599 he went to Amsterdam and founded a business as globe maker. Later he started producing map and sea charts, including his first world map in 1605. In 1633 he was appointed Hydrographer for the Dutch East India Company (VOC). His most famous work was the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus of 1635, which was published until 1655 in total six volumes. After Blaeu's death in 1638 his sons Joan and Cornelis continued the business and finished the Atlas Novus and started an even larger work, the Atlas Maior, which reached 12 volumes. In 1672 a fire destroyed the printing house and most of the printing plates. Joan Blaeu died the following year, leaving the business to his three sons Willem (1635-1701), Pieter (1637-1706) and Joan II (1650-1712). While the business began to decline in the hands of his sons, the dominance of the Blaeu publishing house finally ended in 1703 when the V.O.C. stopped publishing maps bearing the Blaeu family name. Some of the surviving plates were bought by F. de Wit and Schenk & Valk.

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Willem Janszoon Blaeu: Insulae Americanae in Oceano Septentrionali, cum Terris adiacentibus.
Coloured sea chart of the West Indies, Florida. Printed in Amsterdam by Willem & Joan Blaeu in 1640.

Central America - Caribbean - Blaeu, Willem Janszoon - Insulae Americanae in Oceano...

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