1645 Blaeu Map of the Arctic

Regiones Sub Polo Arctico.

1645 Blaeu Map of the Arctic


Wonderful example of Blaeu's map of the Northern Polar Regions arguing against the Northwest Passage.

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Regiones Sub Polo Arctico.
  1645 (undated)    16 x 21.5 in (40.64 x 54.61 cm)


A fine example of the second edition of Guillaume Blaeu's iconic map of the Arctic. The map covers from the north pole south as far as Nova Scotia, James Bay, Iceland, and Norway. Blaeu has here abandoned the fanciful cartographic ideas of the previous generation to produce an entirely new map based largely upon exploration and discovery. Those unexplored arctic lands surrounding the pole are left blank. Greenland and the lands to the north of Baffin Bay and to the West of James Button Bay fade away. Even the eastern shores of Nova Zembla, and the northern shores of Spitzbergen, and left unmapped. By contrast, explored lands are shown in relative detail. The discoveries of James, Barentsz, Baffin, Frobisher, Hall, Davis, and others are noted. In particular, this map incorporates the discoveries of James along the southern and western shore of Hudson's Bay in 1631-32, and promotes the expectation that the Northwest Passage across northern North America did not exist. This map first appeared around 1638 in the undated French Appendice to Blaeu's atlas.


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 centerfold and platemark visible. Latin text on verso. Strong clear impression. Old color.


Burden, P., The Mapping of North America, #252.