Blaeu's five volume world atlas
By BLAEU, Johannes , 1640

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum.

  • Author: BLAEU, Johannes
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Johannes Blaeu
  • Publication date: 1640-1654.
  • Physical description: Five volume folio (540 by 360mm), latin text, seven engraved title pages, all with fine original hand-colour, and heightened with gold, 392 engraved maps (mostly double-page), all in original outline hand-colour, index leaf to the end of each volume, a.e.g., some brown and offsetting to volumes III and V (as usual), volume I with loss to upper corner, from pp-eee, not affecting image, skilfully repaired, publisher's vellum gilt, some discolouration to volume III, and upper board of volume V stained.
  • Inventory reference: 2149


Blaeu’s ‘Theatrum Orbis Terarrum’ in five volumes.

In 1630, Blaeu published his “Atlas Appendix”, containing some 60 maps. This was soon followed in 1631 by an extended “Appendix” – this time with explanatory texts to the maps. Blaeu’s output rapidly increased and in 1635 he published his ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Novus Atlas’ in two volumes with over 200 maps, and in four different languages: German, Latin, French and Dutch. This was followed by an edition in three volumes, published in 1640.

“The three-volume Theatrum was, in fact, a complete world atlas, lacking only the maps of the British Isles, which had been announced in the appendix of the third volume” (van der Krogt). This omission was rectified in 1645 with the publication of the fourth volume, containing maps of all English counties, based on maps from Speed’s ‘Theatre’. By this point the atlas had grown to contain some 330 maps.

In 1654 he published his atlas of Scotland, with maps based on manuscripts by Timothy Pont and edited by Robert Gordon.

The first three volumes of the present atlas are dated 1640, and stands on its own as a complete world atlas. The owner purchasing the fourth and fifth volumes when there were published in 1646 and 1654 respectively.


Volume I: Part 1. ‘Theatrum Orbis Terrarum Sive Atlas Novus in quo Tabulae et Descriptiones omnium Regionum Editae a Guiljel: et Joanne Blaeu.’ (1640). World, North and Eastern Europe, Germany Part 2. Netherlands (1640), together 120 maps.

Volume II: ‘Guil et Joannis Blaeu Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus Pars Secunda’ (1640). Part 1. France; Part 2. Spain, Asia, Africa and America, together 93 maps.

Volume III: ‘Guil et Joannis Blaeu Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus Pars Tertia’ (1640). Italy and Greece, appendix to the British Isles, 66 maps.

Volume IV: ‘Guil et Joannis Blaeu Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus Pars Quarta’ (1646). England and Wales, 58 maps.

Volume V: ‘Guil et Joannis Blaeu Theatrum Orbis Terrarum sive Atlas Novus Pars Quinta’ (1654). Scotland and Ireland, 55 maps.


  1. van der Krogt 2:201
  2. 2:301
  3. 2:401.

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