1635 Blaeu map of Prussia

Prussiae Nova Tabula Auctore Gasparo Henneberg Erlichensi. - Main View

1635 Blaeu map of Prussia


Classic Dutch Map of Prussia.


Prussiae Nova Tabula Auctore Gasparo Henneberg Erlichensi.
  1629 (undated)     15 x 19 in (38.1 x 48.26 cm)     1 : 830000


A beautiful, original-color example of Willem Blaeu's map of Prussia, among the maps first added to the Appendix in 1630. It depicts the region now comprised of northern Poland (as far south as Toruń on the Vistula River), the Russian province of Kaliningrad, and western Lithuania. Detail spans from just west of Gdansk to Augustów in the east. The northeast limits of the map are marked with the region of Samogitia, and the Lithuanian coastal town of Palanga.
An August Lineage
This map's production involves an array of the greatest names in early printed mapmaking. Though appearing in Willem Blaeu's atlases, the plate was among those engraved by Jodocus Hondius in 1629, which thereafter were purchased by Blaeu for inclusion in his atlases - after having replaced the former mapmaker's imprint with his own. Furthermore, although neither Hondius nor Blaeu acknowledge it, their map is an amended and embellished copy of Abraham Ortelius' 1595 map, itself derived from the magnificent and unobtainable 1576 map of Prussia produced by Caspar Hennenberger.
Notable Changes
It is initially tempting to say that Hondius' contributions to Ortelius' edition of the Hennenberger map were cosmetic. Certainly, Hondius' martial cartouche, and the buxom lamia decorating the legend at the upper right were fashionable improvements on the 16th-century strapwork of the Ortelius, Spaces left blank on the older map are here filled with beautifully-engraved mountains and forests. The Baltic is embellished with a fine compass rose, a sailing ship, and a wildly-hirsute sea monster. One obvious change in content between the Ortelius and the present work is the depiction of the Hel Peninsula north of the Pautzker Wick. Ortelius' depiction of it is identical to that of Hennenberger. Hondius has fattened it, and added two towns - Axtermis and Overnord - which do not appear on the Ortelius, but do appear on the 1595 Mercator. (That map, moreover, presents Hel Peninsula as an island - perhaps recording a prominent break in the sandbar?) The Mercator appears to also have been largely informed by the Hennenberger, but it was not a copy of the Ortelius, and with it there are more divergences in the neighboring regions. Mercator's source with respect to Hel Peninsula/Island is not known, but it would appear that while Hondius hewed close to the Ortelius, this obvious distinction led him to incorporate some but not all of Mercator's data.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by Jodocus Hondius for inclusion in his 1629 Appendix. Its imprint was altered by Blaeu for inclusion in his atlases in 1630, and that firm continued to use the plate until its replacement in the 1644-1655 Latin edition of the Atlas Novus. The present example conforms typographically to the 1635 French edition of that work. The map appears to be well represented in institutional collections.


Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571 - October 18, 1638), also known as Guillaume Blaeu and Guiljelmus Janssonius Caesius, was a Dutch cartographer, globemaker, and astronomer active in Amsterdam during the late 16th and early 17th centuries. Blaeu was born 'Willem Janszoon' in Alkmaar, North Holland to a prosperous herring packing and trading family of Dutch Reformist faith. As a young man, he was sent to Amsterdam to apprentice in the family business, but he found the herring trade dull and instead worked for his cousin 'Hooft' as a carpenter and clerk. In 1595, he traveled to the small Swedish island of Hven to study astronomy under the Danish Enlightenment polymath Tycho Brahe. For six months he studied astronomy, cartography, instrument making, globe making, and geodesy. He returned to Alkmaar in 1596 to marry and for the birth of his first son, Johannes (Joan) Blaeu (1596 – 1673). Shortly thereafter, in 1598 or 1599, he relocated his family to Amsterdam where he founded the a firm as globe and instrument makers. Many of his earliest imprints, from roughly form 1599 - 1633, bear the imprint 'Guiljelmus Janssonius Caesius' or simply 'G: Jansonius'. In 1613, Johannes Janssonius, also a mapmaker, married Elizabeth Hondius, the daughter of Willem's primary competitor Jodocus Hondius the Elder, and moved to the same neighborhood. This led to considerable confusion and may have spurred Willam Janszoon to adopt the 'Blaeu' patronym. All maps after 1633 bear the Guiljelmus Blaeu imprint. Around this time, he also began issuing separate issue nautical charts and wall maps – which as we see from Vermeer's paintings were popular with Dutch merchants as decorative items – and invented the Dutch Printing Press. As a non-Calvinist Blaeu was a persona non grata to the ruling elite and so he partnered with Hessel Gerritsz to develop his business. In 1619, Blaeu arranged for Gerritsz to be appointed official cartographer to the VOC, an extremely lucrative position that that, in the slightly more liberal environment of the 1630s, he managed to see passed to his eldest son, Johannes. In 1633, he was also appointed official cartographer of the Dutch Republic. Blaeu's most significant work is his 1635 publication of the Theatrum orbis terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus, one of the greatest atlases of all time. He died three years later, in 1638, passing the Blaeu firm on to his two sons, Cornelius (1616 - 1648) and Johannes Blaeu (September 23, 1596 - December 21, 1673). Under his sons, the firm continued to prosper until the 1672 Great Fire of Amsterdam destroyed their offices and most of their printing plates. Willem's most enduring legacy was most likely the VOC contract, which ultimately passed to Johannes' son, Johannes II, who held the position until 1617. As a hobbyist astronomer, Blaeu discovered the star now known as P. Cygni. Learn More...

Jodocus Hondius (October, 14 1563 - February 12, 1612) was an important Dutch cartographer active in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. His common name, Jodocus Hondius is actually a Latinized version of his Dutch name, Joost de Hondt. He is also sometimes referred to as Jodocus Hondius the Elder to distinguish him from his sons. Hondius was a Flemish artist, engraver, and cartographer. He is best known for his early maps of the New World and Europe, for re-establishing the reputation of the work of Gerard Mercator, and for his portraits of Francis Drake. Hondius was born and raised in Ghent. In his early years he established himself as an engraver, instrument maker and globe maker. In 1584 he moved to London to escape religious difficulties in Flanders. During his stay in England, Hondius was instrumental in publicizing the work of Francis Drake, who had made a circumnavigation of the world in the late 1570s. In particular, in 1589 Hondius produced a now famous map of the cove of New Albion, where Drake briefly established a settlement on the west coast of North America. Hondius' map was based on journal and eyewitness accounts of the trip and has long fueled speculation about the precise location of Drake's landing, which has not yet been firmly established by historians. Hondius is also thought to be the artist of several well-known portraits of Drake that are now in the National Portrait Gallery in London. In 1593, Hondius returned to Amsterdam, where he remained until the end of his life. In 1604, he purchased the plates of Gerard Mercator's Atlas from Mercator's grandson. Mercator's work had languished in comparison to the rival atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Ortelius. Hondius republished Mercator's work with 36 additional maps, including several which he himself produced. Despite the addition of his own contributions, Hondius recognizing the prestige of Mercator's name, gave Mercator full credit as the author of the work, listing himself as the publisher. Hondius' new edition of Mercator revived the great cartographer's reputation and was a great success, selling out after a year. Hondius later published a second edition, as well as a pocket version called the Atlas Minor. The maps have since become known as the "Mercator/Hondius series". Between 1605 and 1610 Hondius was employed by John Speed to engrave the plates for Speed's The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine. Following Hondius' death in 1612, his publishing work in Amsterdam was continued by his widow and two sons, Jodocus II and Henricus. Later his family formed a partnership with Jan Jansson, whose name appears on the Atlasas co-publisher after 1633. Eventually, starting with the first 1606 edition in Latin, about 50 editions of the Atlas were released in the main European languages. In the Islamic world, the atlas was partially translated by the Turkish scholar Katip Çelebi. The series is sometimes called the 'Mercator/Hondius/Jansson' series because of Jansson's later contributions. Hondius' is also credited with a number of important cartographic innovations including the introduction of decorative map borders and contributions to the evolution of 17th century Dutch wall maps. The work of Hondius was essential to the establishment Amsterdam as the center of cartography in Europe in the 17th century. Learn More...

Abraham Ortelius (1527 - 1598) was one of the most important figures in the history of cartography and is most famously credited with the compilation of the seminal 1570 atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, generally considered to be the world's first modern atlas. Ortelius was born in Antwerp and began his cartographic career in 1547 as a typesetter for the Antwerp Guild of St. Luke. In this role Ortelius traveled extensively through Europe where he came into contact with Mercator, under whose influence, he marketed himself as a "scientific geographer". In this course of his long career he published numerous important maps as well as issued several updated editions of his cardinal work, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Late in his career Ortelius was appointed Royal Cartographer to King Phillip II of Spain. On his death in July fourth, 1598, Ortelius' body was buried in St Michael's Præmonstratensian Abbey , Antwerp, where his tombstone reads, Quietis cultor sine lite, uxore, prole. Learn More...

Caspar Hennenberger (1529 – February 29, 1600) was a German Lutheran pastor, historian and cartographer. He was born in Erlich, in Thüringen; he started his studies in Lutheran divinity at the University of Königsberg in 1550, and he would work for nearly thirty years as a Lutheran Pastor. His scholarship apparently reached beyond divinity, however: with the support of his patron Duke Albert of Prussia, and the aid of Prussian mathematician Nicolaus Neodomus, Hennenberger would produce, and in 1576 publish, the first detailed map of Prussia. He accompanied that work with several books amplifying on the map. Hennenberger's map would be well received: Abraham Ortelius would adopt Hennenberger's map as a model, replacing the outdated map derived from Heinrich Zell's 1542 work. Learn More...


Baeu, W., Theatre du Monde ou Nouvel Atlas, (Amsterrdam) 1635.     The classic Dutch atlas, whose publication ushered in the Dutch golden age of cartography. Willem Jansz Blaeu had been, since 1604, producing engraved maps for sale; these were separate issues (and all consequently extremely rare) until the publishing of Blaeu's Appendix in 1630 and 1631, which also included a number of maps purchased from the widow of Jodocus Hondius, (for example his famous iteration of John Smith's map of Virginia.) In 1634, he announced his intention to produce a new world atlas in two volumes, entitled Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive Atlas Novus (in an effort to invoke the successful work of the same title produced by Ortelius the previous century, while reinforcing the notion of it being a new work.) This work was published first in German in 1634, followed by Latin, Dutch and French editions in 1635. Blaeu's maps have always been noted for the quality of their paper, engraving and fine coloring, and this was the intent from the very start. The 1634 announcement of the upcoming work described it: 'All editions on very fine paper, completely renewed with newly engraved copperplates and new, comprehensive descriptions.' (van der Krogt, p,43) Many of the most beautiful and desirable maps available to the modern collector were printed and bound in Blaeu's atlases. Willem's son, Joan, would go on to add further volumes to the Atlas Novus, concurrently printing new editions of the first two volumes with additional maps, in effect making these new editions an entirely new book. Under Joan there would be nine Latin editions, twelve French, at least seven Dutch, and two German. This exceedingly successful work would be the mainstay of the Blaeu firm until 1661, at which point the work was supplanted by Joan Blaeu's masterwork Atlas Maior in 1662.


Very good. Some marginal water staining and light toning; attractive original color.


OCLC 776375901. Rumsey 12202.012. Van der Krogt, P. C. J., Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, (Vol. 2) 1720:2A.2.