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1642 Blaeu Map of Russia, with the Cartography of Issac Massa

Russiae, vulgo Moscovia dictae, Partes Septentrionalis et Orientalis. - Main View

1642 Blaeu Map of Russia, with the Cartography of Issac Massa


A beautifully excecuted and detailed map of the Dutch trade routes into Russia.



Russiae, vulgo Moscovia dictae, Partes Septentrionalis et Orientalis.
  1640 (undated)     16.5 x 20.25 in (41.91 x 51.435 cm)     1 : 4000000


This is a beautiful example of Blaeu's 1640 map of Muscovy north of the Volga, and the Northernmost parts of Russia. It was derived primarily from the geographical information of the Dutch trader and diplomat Isaac Massa, whose experience in Russia during the Time of Troubles remained the best firsthand source on Russian society and Geography well into the 17th century. The granular detail for the trade route from Archangel on the White Sea to Yaroslavl testifies to Massa's years in the region, working to secure trade for textiles and grain both for the Netherlands and for Sweden. The whole of this route, following the Dvina to the Sukhona Rivers and on to the portage between Vologda and Yaroslavl on the Volga shows more than a hundred towns which would have been familiar way stations on the long river journey.
Northeast Passage
Although the coastline had been explored at the end of the 16th century by Dutch expeditions led by Cornelius Ney and charted by Jan van Linschoten, the Dutch had remained largely ignorant of what lay beyond the shore. (This region, on Linschoten's beautiful chart bears the arms of the Lithuanian Republic.) Massa's geography, first committed to print by the Dutch mapmaker Hessel Gerritz and then rapidly disseminated throughout Amsterdam's mapmaking community, provided the first useful maps of Northern Russia's river systems between the Dvina and the Ob. Though Dutch attempts at a northeast passage had been repeatedly stymied by the ice floes of the Kara Sea, Massa's work at comprehending the Russian riverine routes came at a welcome time: the Dutch and the English were vying for influence in a tumultuous Russia which - though it shared the same continent - was in many respects as distant and ill-understood by western European geographers as Africa, or America.
Publication History and Census
This map first appeared in the Blaeu atlas in 1640; this example appeared in a Dutch edition of Joan Blaeu's four-volume Toonneel des Aerdrycks, ofte nieuwe Atlas as early as 1642.


Joan (Johannes) Blaeu (September 23, 1596 - December 21, 1673) was a Dutch cartographer active in the 17th century. Joan was the son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu, founder of the Blaeu firm. Like his father Willem, Johannes was born in Alkmaar, North Holland. He studied Law, attaining a doctorate, before moving to Amsterdam to join the family mapmaking business. In 1633, Willem arranged for Johannes to take over Hessel Gerritsz's position as the official chartmaker of the Dutch East India Company, although little is known of his work for that organization, which was by contract and oath secretive. What is known is his work supplying the fabulously wealthy VOC with charts was exceedingly profitable. Where other cartographers often fell into financial ruin, the Blaeu firm thrived. It was most likely those profits that allowed the firm to publish the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus, their most significant and best-known publication. When Willem Blaeu died in 1638, Johannes, along with his brother Cornelius Blaeu (1616 - 1648) took over the management of the Blaeu firm. In 1662, Joan and Cornelius produced a vastly expanded and updated work, the Atlas Maior, whose handful of editions ranged from 9 to an astonishing 12 volumes. Under the brothers' capable management, the firm continued to prosper until the 1672 Great Amsterdam Fire destroyed their offices and most of their printing plates. Johannes Blaeu, witnessing the destruction of his life's work, died in despondence the following year. He is buried in the Dutch Reformist cemetery of Westerkerk. Johannes Blaeu was survived by his son, also Johannes but commonly called Joan II, who inherited the family's VOC contract, for whom he compiled maps until 1712. Learn More...

Isaac Abrahamszoon Massa (1586 - 1643) was a Dutch merchant, traveller and diplomat, and the envoy to Muscovy. His writings represent among the best primary sources Russia's Time of Troubles (Смутное время) and he produced some of the first maps of Eastern Europe and Siberia based on actual exploration. His cartographic contributions were quickly absorbed by the Dutch mapmaking trade, and can be seen in the works of Hessel Gerritz, Blaeu, Hondius and their descendants in the trade. Massa was born into a wealthy silk merchant's family, possibly Huguenot in origin. He first traveled to Russia in 1601 to further his family's trade interests there; during his time there he saw the latter half of Boris Godunov's reign and the outbreak of the Time of Troubles. He escaped a far more tumultuous Russia than the one to which he arrived in 1609. Massa's account of these events, which he presented to Stadtholder Maurice, were astonishingly not committed to print until the nineteenth century. He did, in 1612–1613, published two articles on Russian events and the geography of the Land of Samoyeds, accompanied by a map of Russia, which were published in a volume edited by Gerritsz. Massa's rendition of the Siberian coast, in particular, represented an advance in geography which was unsurpassed for decades, and consequently was widely copied. In 1614 Massa returned to Moscow as an official envoy of States-General of the Netherlands to obtain exclusive trade agreements and to investigate the trade routes into Persia. Following an abortive attempt to become an agent for Moscovia in 1624, he was able to find a place supporting the Swedish Gustaf II Adolf in pursuit of grain trade with Russia, for which efforts he was knighted by the Swedish King in 1625. Learn More...


Blaeu, Joan and Cornelis, Tooneel des Aerdrycks ofte nieuwe Atlas (Amsterdam) 1642.    


Excellent condition. Printers' crease, else fine condition. Superb original color, refreshed.


OCLC:779539927. van der Krogt 1801:2:221.