One of the Finest Sixteenth Century World Maps.
Fine dark impression of Cornelis De Jode’s double hemisphere map of the world on a polar projection, First Edition, Antwerp 1593, [520 x 320mm]
De Jode’s map is one of only a few 16th Century maps of the world drawn on a twin polar hemisphere projection. Richly annotated with contemporary geographical knowledge (accurate and myth), much of the geography is largely based on the Italian maps of the Lafreri School. It is thought that De Jode acquired these source maps from agents of Venetian and Roman mapmakers at one of the annual gatherings of the Frankfurt Book Fair.
While De Jode’s Lafreri sources were groundbreaking, as (in sum) the first maps to, in detail, show all of the world as it was then conceived by Europeans, the present map naturally shows both the amazing breadth and limitations of contemporary knowledge. While the Lafreri mapmakers were able to gain access to a number of, often ‘pirated’, original source maps, the policies of ‘cartographic secrecy’ employed by the Portuguese and Spanish governments, the prime movers of exploration during the 16th-century, placed a limitation on available sources. That factor, and the reality that much of the world had not yet been explored by Europeans, let alone charted, was responsible for enduring cartographic misconceptions.
It is worth noting that the fascinating twin polar hemisphere projection had the effect of excessively attenuating the landforms located near the Equator, or near the margins of the hemispheres. As seen on the left, or Northern Hemisphere, North America and Asia are separated by the mythical Strait of Anian, placing Japan very close to the Northwest Coast of America. The coastal details in East Asia are derived from Lafreri maps, pre-dating the information disseminated in the works of Rughesi and Plancius. The coast of China does not bulge outwards, as it does in reality, but here sweeps diagonally upward, with no sign of Korea (either island or peninsula). The Philippines are also not yet shown in any coherent fashion, as the mapping is still based on Pigafetta’s rudimentary reports.
While the Malay Peninsula is easily identifiable, and notes the Portuguese trading base of Malacca (secured in 1511), Sumatra is incorrectly identified as “Taprobana”, the archaic name for Sri Lanka. The Indian Subcontinent takes on an unfamiliar, bulbous form, although Sri Lanka correctly appears off of its southeastern tip. The delineation of the coasts of the Arabian Peninsula and Africa are quite fine for the time, emanating from Portuguese sources.
In the Americas, California is named, and the mythical cities of Quivira and Civola are also labeled. The mapping of Eastern Canada and the American Atlantic Seaboard is quite rudimentary. Newfoundland is shown, although Labrador is depicted as an island. The St. Lawrence River is shown to be of an exaggerated breadth, although ‘Stadcona’ (Quebec City) and ‘Hochelaga’ (Montreal), are noted, as well as Algonquin towns discovered by Jacques Cartier, from 1534 to 1541. Further south towards Florida, the coasts are bereft of accurate detail, as the map predates John Smith’s mapping of Chesapeake Bay and New England.
Turning to the Southern Hemisphere (to the right), a massive ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ dominates the projection. The Straits of Magellan separate this apocryphal continent from South America, a misconception that would remain in place until Le Maire rounded Cape Horn in 1615. South America is shown on a very wide projection, retaining the bulge made famous in the first edition of Ortelius’ map of America. In the eastern seas, Terra Australis is shown to extend upwards into the eastern reaches of the Indonesian Archipelago.
De Jode’s map is one of the great icons of map collecting. The map is based upon the now lost first edition of Guillaume Postel’s wall map of the World (1581), and a unique set of Globe Gores measuring 2.4 meters x 1.2 meters from circa 1587, known in 1 copy (Bibliotheque Nationale de France), attributed by Marcel Destombes to engravers Antoine Wierix and Adrian Collard, who likely made the map for Cornelis De Jode (referred to by Destombes as the Antwerp Unicum).
As noted by Rodney Shirley:
The map is an interesting adaptation of Guillaume Postel’s 1581 world map with some curious features reminiscent of the large anonymous gores probably published in Antwerp in about 1587. In both maps we have the same configuration for the northern coasts – the Gulf of Merosro in North America, the placing of Ter. d Labrador and Nova Zembla, and the odd junction of the eastern part of Asia with one of the large arctic masses. Japan is to be found only a few degrees from the west coast of America, and in the delineation of South Africa and South America there are further features strongly suggesting a common source.
Shirley 184; Skelton, ‘De Jode Speculum Orbis Terrarum’ (Introduction) pp.