Amsterdam: Judocus Hondius, 1611. First edition. Later calf-backed boards. 11 x 7 1/8 inches (28 x 18 cm); engraved title, , 292, (6), 38, (2), collating (.) a-2N A-E^(4), 50 engravings within the text and with 7 folding plates and maps.
First edition of not only the first important history of Amsterdam but also of the Dutch East India Company’s maritime exploration around the globe, including the accounts of the two first voyages to the East Indies, and the text reports of the attempts to find a North-East Passage. The map of the Polar regions illustrating the third voyage of Willem Barentsz. to Nova Zembla (1596-97) is also important as an Americanum in giving the results of Hudson’s first two voyages (1607-1608) for the Muscovy Company of London. The appearence of the map by Hondius was doubtless the result of Hudson’s employment by the Dutch East India Company in 1609.
The present Amsterdam-description is of interest for the history of economy, as well as for the history of world travel. By 1611, the date of publication of this volume, Amsterdam, a small town in the 16th century, was becoming the major mercantile and cultural centre of the Low Countries, and of Europe. From the late Middle Ages until 1585 this position had been held by Antwerp, but the recapture of this city by the Spanish Catholic forces during the wars of independence meant there was a large influx of Protestant refugees northwards, greatly expanding and enriching the population of Amsterdam. The bourse or stock exchange was being built as this volume was being published (1608-1613, and eventually demolished in 1838). The extent of the city’s trading activities by this time is shown by illustrations of scenes from Indonesia and India to the Arctic.
Isaac Pontanus (1571-1639) studied in Franeker and Leiden where he became Doctor Philosophiae in 1593. During one of his many journeys he also studied with Tycho Brahe in Denmark. In 1606 he was appointed professor in Harderwijk.