Copper engraving, 41.5 x 53 cm, with original hand-colour, minor spotting, Spanish text to verso. From “the rarest edition of Blaeu’s Large Atlases”: only ten of the proposed eleven volumes were completed and issued in a limited quantity between 1658 and the disastrous 1672 fire, which brought work on the final volume to a halt.
By the time Blaeu’s ‘Atlas Major’ was published in it comprised some 600 maps and filled twelve folio volumes – it was also among the most valuable books of its time. Within this vast project Blaeu’s Scottish volume, originally published in 1654, was the first truly detailed printed survey of the country. It relied heavily on manuscript maps prepared at the turn of the 17th century by Timothy Pont which had never previously been published, with some additional material provided by Robert Gordon of Straloch and others, all saved for posterity and put into the hands of Blaeu by his local correspondent Sir John Scot of Scotstarvit (as a map publisher, Blaeu carefully cultivated men in every country who could provide him with accurate cartographic information). This detailed regional mapping meant that, at a stroke, Scotland had become one of the best mapped countries in 17th century Europe.
Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici, BL 60 A