Nova Barbariae Descriptio.
1640 (undated) 15 x 21.5 in (38.1 x 54.61 cm)
1 : 8250000
This is a fascinating example of G. Bleau's decorative c.1640 map of the Maghreb or Barbary Coast of northern Africa. It covers from the Morocco to the Nile Delta. The region consists of the modern day nations of Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Egypt and Morocco. The map offers excellent detail throughout showing mountains, rivers, national boundaries, cities, regions, and tribes.
As Bonne was preparing this map, the Barbary Coast was a hotbed of piracy - much like the Somali coast today. The Barbary Pirates would attack trading ships passing through the narrow Gibraltar straits and western Mediterranean. Ships would be destroyed or appropriated, cargo sized, and the crews and passengers enslaved. By the early 19th century, piracy in this region would become so intense that the United States would launch its first major naval offensive against Tripoli. The resultant 1805 Battle of Derne would later inspire a portion of the lyrics of theÂ Marines' Hymn, 'the shores of Tripoli.'
In addition to Bleau's fascinating depiction of the region, among the most in any mapping of this region during the time, there are also a number of attractive decorative elements. The land is filled with several animals throughout, including elephants, ostriches, antelopes, monkeys, crocodiles, prehistoric fire breathing dragons, etc., while a ship sails in the Mediterranean near Cyprus and the mouth of the River Nile. A decorative baroque title cartouche appears at the lower left quadrant and in the lower right quadrant, another smaller cartouche frames the distance scales, surrounded by three monkeys.
The Blaeu Family (fl. 1596 - 1672). The Amsterdam based Blaeu clan represents the single most important family in the history of cartography. The firm was founded in 1596 by Willem Janzoon Blaeu (1571-1638). It was in this initial period, from 1596 to 1672, under the leadership of the Willem Blaeu and with this assistance of his two talented sons Cornelius (1616-1648) and Johannis (1596-1673), that the firm was most active. Their greatest cartographic achievement was the publication of the magnificent multi-volume Atlas Major. To this day, the Atlas Major represents one of the finest moments in cartography. The vast scope, staggering attention to detail, historical importance, and unparalleled beauty of this great work redefined the field of cartography in ways that have endured well into to the modern era. The cartographic works of the Blaeu firm are the crowning glory of the Dutch Golden Age of Cartography. The firm shut down in 1672 when their offices were destroyed during the Great Amsterdam Fire. The fire also destroyed nearly all of Blaeu's original printing plates and records, an incomparable loss to the history of cartography.
Very good. Original platemark visible. Minor wear along original centerfold. Minor foxing.