The first folio Sea Atlas
By JANSSONIUS, Johannes , 1650

Cinquiesme partie du grand atlas contenant une parfaicte description du monde maritime ou hydrographie generale de toute la terre, enrichie des particularités de la navigation tant ancienne que moderne, avec un excellent 7 curieux tableau du monde des anciens accompagne des paralleles de l’antique & nouvelle Grece; c’est à dire, une collation des lieux de antiquité avec ceux e nostre temps. Ou une veritable correspondence des anciennes denominations avec les modernes, selon le calcul des plus doctes de notre siècle.

  • Author: JANSSONIUS, Johannes
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Joannem Janssonium
  • Publication date: 1650.
  • Physical description: Folio sea atlas (520 by 340mm), title, 33 double-page engraved maps and charts, all in original outline hand-colour, small hole to title, maps and text evenly age-toned throughout, as usual, contemporary Dutch vellum over boards, gilt-panelled with corner and central gilt arabesques, flat spine in seven compartments, gilt, edges gilt.
  • Inventory reference: 1011


Although pilot guides, or rutters, supplemented by charts had been produced as early as 1584, Jansson must be credited with the production of the “first real sea-atlas”, which contained “a collection of charts in folio size, to serve as an atlas for general purposes” (Van der Krogt). Some Anglo-Italians might put forward for that title Robert Dudley’s Acarno del Mare – a work of numerable firsts, published in 1646 – but it was not until the second edition of 1661 that all the charts in it were uniformly bound.

The atlas was published in 1650, as the fifth volume to Jansson’s ‘Atlas Novus’ – as is made explicit in the title. The volume, which was referred to as the ‘Waterwereld’ (Waterworld), would later be published as a stand-alone volume. Of the 23 charts in the atlas, 21 were published for the first time and, even if many have “more a characteristic of geographical maps than charts” (Koeman) and the “elaborate printed text … is not pertaining to maritime affairs” (Koeman), the work’s influence was considerable, as can be seen in the output of the likes of Goos, Colom, and van Keulen.

The atlas also includes the ‘Atlas Antiquus’, which consists of ten historical maps. The maps of the Ancient World and Ancient Greece had appeared earlier; the eight detailed maps of the Greek regions drawn by Johannes Laurenberg appear here for the first time.


  1. Koeman Me 171
  2. Van der Krogt, 1:416.5M&O.

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