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1606 Hondius Map of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Margarita Island

Cuba Insula. / Hispaniola Insula. / Insula Jamaica. / Ins. J. Ioannis. / I.S. Margareta Cum Confiniis. - Main View

1606 Hondius Map of Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and Margarita Island


Key Caribbean islands.



Cuba Insula. / Hispaniola Insula. / Insula Jamaica. / Ins. J. Ioannis. / I.S. Margareta Cum Confiniis.
  1606 (undated)     14 x 19.56 in (35.56 x 49.6824 cm)


This is Jodocus Hondius's 1609 map of Cuba and Hispaniola, with inset maps of Jamaica, Puerto Rico, and Margarita Island. Hondius' geographical information was drawn from the 1569 Mercator wall map of America, which also informed the Mercator map of the western hemisphere that would appear in the early editions of the Mercator-Hondius atlas. Neither it nor Hondius' own 1606 map of the Americas showed the Caribbean islands in sharp detail, and so this sheet was engraved to provide sharper focus on these significant islands. A map focusing on the West Indies as a whole would not be added to the Mercator-Hondius atlas until 1636, so for the first thirty years of the atlas this map - or more precisely, this collection of five maps on a single sheet - represented the most detailed depiction of these islands in the atlas. Tellingly, its last appearance in the book was in a 1638 Latin text edition. Apparently Hondius and Jansson decided a full map of the Caribbean Islands was preferable, and thus did not rework the plate.
The Composition
Cuba takes pride of place, including the Cayman Islands, the Isla de Pinas, and part of Hispaniola. There is an inset map of the port of Havana and its vicinity. The beautifully engraved sea areas include several sea monsters. The map of Hispaniola, although placed below Cuba, is better detailed. A fine sailing ship and three sea monsters appear off the coast. One of these monsters appears to be a gargantuan Yorkshire terrier menacing the northern coast! Jamaica, Puerto Rico (Ins. S. Ioannis) and the island of Saint Margaret all appear on the left. S. Margareta includes part of the nearby Venezuelan coast.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by Jodocus Hondius the Elder for inclusion in the 1606 edition of the Mercator and Hondius Atlas and was included in editions of the work until 1634. This example conforms typographically to the 1609 French edition of the work. Although the map does appear on the market, early examples with sharp impressions, as here, have become increasingly scarce.


Gerard Mercator (1512 - 1594) is a seminal figure in the history of cartography. Mercator's calculations and map designs redefined the 16th century concept of cartography and were the first to break away from the Ptolemy model. Many of his systems of measurement, such as the Mercator Projection, are still in use today. Despite his prominence as a cartographer, he started his career as a crafter of scientific instruments. He did not construct his first map until 1540, when he made two maps, one of Flanders and another of Palestine. These two impressive works earned him the patronage of the Emperor Charles V, for whom he construed a globe and several large scale maps. Despite this imperial patronage, Mercator was accused of heresy and in 1552 fled to Duisburg. In Duisburg he set himself up as a cartographer and began work on his revised edition of Ptolemy's Geographia. This three volume work was the first book to be called an "Atlas", after the Titan and King of Mauritania. Following Mercator's death his descendants took over his firm but languished because of heavy competition from the Ortelius firm. It was not until Mercator's plates were purchased and republished ( Mercator / Hondius ) by Henricus Hondius and Jan Jansson that Mercator's position as the preeminent cartographer of the age was re-established. 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...


Mercator, G., and Hondius, J., Gerardi Mercatoris L'Atlas ou Méditations Cosmographiques de la Fabrique du Monde et Figure D'Icelvy. (Amsterdam) 1609.     Mercator's Atlas is one of the most important works in the history of cartography. Although in fact Ortelius was the first to publish a proper atlas, the Teatrum Orbis Terrarum, Mercator's Atlas the first book to employ the term Atlas for a collection of maps. The term is derived both from the mythical titan, Atlas, who was forced to bear the world upon his shoulders, and the Libyan king, philosopher, and astronomer of the same name that, so the legend goes, constructed the first globe. Mercator dedicated the final 25 years of his life to compile the Atlas. He published two parts during his lifetime in 1585 and 1589, but the final part published posthumously by his son Rumold Mercator, in 1595. The map plates for the Atlas were later acquired by Jodocus Hondius who published the most complete and well known edition in 1606. It was Jodocus who popularized the Atlas and who did the most to elevate Gerard Mercator's work.


Excellent. Full margined example with a sharp, early strike. Fine hand color.


OCLC 13295822. Rumsey 10501.511. (1607 issue). Van der Krogt, P. C. J., Koeman's Atlantes Neerlandici, 9610: 1A. Cueto, E.Cuba in Old Maps, 21.