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1680 De Wit Map of the Celestial Hemispheres (Stars and Constellations)

Planisphaerium Coeleste. - Main View

1680 De Wit Map of the Celestial Hemispheres (Stars and Constellations)


Extremely rare and early oversized double hemisphere constellation map, or celestial, by Frederik de Wit.



Planisphaerium Coeleste.
  1680 (undated)     20 x 29 in (50.8 x 73.66 cm)


A remarkable and very rare example of Frederic de Wit's c. 1680 oversized and beautifully engraved double hemisphere celestial map. The map consists of two hemispheres surrounded by six supplementary diagrams. These illustrated the Copernican hypothesis, the Ptolemaic hypothesis, the Tycho Brahe hypothesis, an illustration of the phases of the moon relative to the Sun, the rotational pattern of the day, and the rotation of the Moon around the Earth. The map is further embellished by dark storm clouds and an elaborate title banner.

Each major hemisphere is centered on the elliptic pole and rendered on a polar stereographic projection with an external orientation. The constellations are shows in pictorial form with emphasis given to the constellations associated with the Zodiac. Important stars and other astronomical and astrological features are noted. The content and deportment of the constellations is clearly derived from the celestial hemispheres appearing as supplementary material on Joan Blaeu's remarkable 1658 wall map of the world (Shirley 371).

De Wit published this as a separate issue and as such it was not officially part of any atlas - although it did occasionally appear bound into Allard's 1705 Atlas Major and Sanson's Atlas Nouveau. This map may have been issued in conjunction with Pierre Mortier. Extremely rare. The OCLC identifies only 3 institutional examples and there appears to be no identifiable sales record on the private market.


Frederik de Wit (1629 - 1706) was a Dutch Golden Age cartographer active in the second half of the 17th and the early 18th centuries. De Wit was born of middle class Protestant stock in the western Netherlandish town of Gouda. He relocated to Amsterdam sometime before 1648, where he worked under Willem Blaeu. His first attributed engraved map, a plan of Haarlem for Antonius Sanderus' Flandria Illustrata, was issued around this time. He struck out on his own in 1654. The first chart that De Wit personally both drew and engraved was most likely his 1659 map of Denmark, REGNI DANIÆ Accuratissima delineatio Perfeckte Kaerte van ‘t CONJNCKRYCK DENEMARCKEN. His great wall map of the world and most famous work, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula appeared one year later. Following the publication of his wall map De Wit quickly rose in prominence as a both cartographer and engraver. He married Maria van der Way in 1661 and through her became a citizen of Amsterdam in 1662. Around this time he also published his first major atlas, a composite production ranging in size from 17 to over 150 maps and charts. Other atlases and individual maps followed. In 1689 De Wit was granted at 15 year Privilege by the Dutch States General. The Privilege was a kind of early copyright that protected his exclusive rights to print and publish his maps. He was recognized with the honorific 'Good Citizen' in 1694. De Wit died in 1706 after which his wife Maria continued publishing his maps until about 1710. Though De Wit did have a son, Franciscus, he had no interest in the map trade, being a prosperous stockfish merchant. Instead, on her own retirement, Maria sold most De Wit maps and plates at a public auction. Most were acquired by Pieter Mortier and laid the groundwork for the 1721 rise of Covens and Mortier, the largest Dutch cartographic publishing house of the 18th century. Learn More...


Good. Printed on two sheets and joined by publisher. A few minor verso repairs and reinforcemnts. Minor fold wear. Else a beautiful example.


Kanas, Nick, Star maps: A History, Artistry, and Cartography, page 352. Warner, Deborah Jean, The Sky Explored: Celestial Cartography, 1500-1800, P. 264, cf. 256. Library of Congress, Map Division G3190 1850 .P6. OCLC 159851806.