Copper engraving, 39 x 47.5 cm, original hand colour, French text on verso; a map of Europe, but note the mythical island of Frisland, top right.
The Hondius-Janssonius map publishing business traced its roots back to Gerardus Mercator. Mercator coined the term ‘atlas’ (after the wise, mythical, Mauritanian king rather than the weary titan) and the original Mercator Atlas (published in parts between 1585 and 1595) was an enormous advance in scientific terms: like Abraham Ortelius, Mercator edited his maps from the best available sources, but he advanced a step further and mapped the world on a standard projection. However, the Atlas was not an immediate commercial success; the copper printing plates were purchased by Jodocus Hondius c. 1604, and a large number of maps were added for his first edition of 1606, which still traded on Mercator’s name. His son-in-law Janssonius took over the business in the mid 1630s. He began to erase Hondius’ name and replace it with his own at this time, and eventually expanded the atlas to create an Atlas major which rivalled Blaeu’s.
Koeman, Atlantes Neerlandici, Me 26A