Coloured map of Iceland. Printed in Amsterdam by H. Hondius in 1633.

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The second map based on local Icelandic data.

This impressive map showcases Iceland and is attributed to the famous cartographer Gerhard Mercator. It was featured in the Atlas sive Cosmographicae by Jodocus Hondius and his successors. This map, created in 1595, stands as the second modern atlas depiction and the second overall based on Icelandic data - a significant contribution to early accurate mapping of the island. Notably, it shares its roots with Abraham Ortelius' renowned map, both deriving from Guabrandur Borliksson (1542-1627), Bishop of Holar.

The precise origin of Mercator's map is uncertain, though friendship with Ortelius makes direct influence plausible. However, differences in detail and style suggest an independent source. Potential intermediaries include Danish scholar Anders Sgrensen Vedel and politician-scholar Henrik Rantzau, with whom Mercator corresponded. While the specific channel remains unclear, both maps undeniably trace back to Bishop Thorlaksson's work.

Mercator's engraving skills shine in this map, characterized by stippled oceans, picturesque mountains, and meticulous lettering variations. The detailed illustration includes a sea monster, likely inspired by whale sightings, and vividly portrays the eruption of Mount Hekla in 1510. Other famous volcanoes, like Eyjafjallajökull, are named, emphasizing Mercator's attention to both geographical and historical details.

The first and second atlas maps of Iceland differ in latitude and longitude, hinting at discrepancies in the provided data. Mercator's rendition places Iceland slightly northward and is less exaggerated than Ortelius' depiction. While less decorative, Mercator's map is simpler and more reliable, accurately representing populated areas but overlooking uninhabited regions.

This beautiful example of Mercator's Iceland map comes from the French edition of the Mercator-Hondius Atlas of 1633 and has French text on verso.


CartographerGerard Mercator
Publisher, YearH. Hondius, Amsterdam, 1633
Plate Size28.0 x 43.0 cm (11.0 x 16.9 inches)
Sheet Size48.0 x 57.5 cm (18.9 x 22.6 inches)
ReferenceVan der Krogt, P.: Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, 1500:1A.1


Smoothed crease to the left of the centerfold. Very good condition with very nice coloring.


Gerard Mercator (Kremer) was born in Rupelmonde in Flanders and studied in Louvain. He drawn his first map in 1537 and became a cartographer and globe maker. In 1552 he moved to Duisburg, Germany where he published his famous 18-sheet world map in 1569 with his own new projection, today called Mercator projection. Later he decided to publish a new edition of Ptolemy's Geographia. Followed by his major work, a 3 volume collection of maps to which the word Atlas was applied the first time. The first volume was published 1585, followed by the second in 1589 and the third one after his death in 1595 by his son Rumold. A second edition of all three parts was published 1602. 1604 Jodocus Hondius acquired the plates and published several edition together with his sons Jodocus II and Henricus until 1633. More editions followed until 1666 by Janssonius who was in partnership with Henricus. Some of the plated where also used by W.J. Blaeu in 1630.

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Gerard Mercator: Islandia.
Coloured map of Iceland. Printed in Amsterdam by H. Hondius in 1633.

Iceland - Mercator, Gerard - Islandia

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