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Abraham Ortelius, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp, Aegid. Coppendium Diesth, 1574. Folio (44 x 30 cm).

Engraved allegorical title, 9 (of 10) text leaves, 70 double-page maps, 48 text leaves. Beautiful blind- and gold stamped calf leather Jesuit binding, late 16th or early 17th century. Initials S.F. marked on top book cut, front and back cover with gold stamped symbol of the Jesuit Society, and lavishly gold and blind stamped floral decorations. Binding in good condition, the two clasps are missing.


Ortelius's Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, known as the 'Theatre of the World' is often credited as the first true modern atlas. It served as a comprehensive summary of 16th-century cartographic knowledge, encompassing the significant explorations conducted in the century following the discovery of America. Initially published in 1570 in Antwerp, the atlas enjoyed consistent publication until 1612, with some examples discovered with maps dated as late as 1640 through recent research. Ortelius himself meticulously crafted all the maps, drawing them by hand, which were then translated into prints by his skilled engravers: Frans Hogenberg, Ambrosius Arsenius, and Ferdinand Arsenius. The 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' gained widespread popularity, appealing to a diverse audience who preferred reading the atlas in their native language. Consequently, besides Latin, the book was also published with text in Dutch, French, German, Italian, Spanish, and English. Following Ortelius's death in 1598, ownership of the copper plates for his atlas transferred to his heirs. They subsequently sold the collection to Jan Baptist Vrients (1522-1612) in 1601. Vrients expanded the atlas with new maps and continued its publication until his death in 1612. Afterwards, Vrients's widow sold the plates to the Moretus brothers, who succeeded Christoffel Plantin.


Abraham Ortelius stands out as one of the most renowned mapmakers of the sixteenth century, widely recognised and frequently sought after by collectors. Initially starting his career as a map colourist, Ortelius became a member of the Antwerp guild of St Luke in 1547, primarily engaged in commercial ventures until around 1560. It was during a journey with Gerard Mercator in 1560 that Ortelius, influenced by Mercator, shifted his focus towards scientific geography.


The condition of this atlas is very good. Some of the pages and maps in the beginning have been rebound, there is a light water stain throughout the book and a few maps have some old restorations as well as some annotations. All in all a very nice copy!

Theatrum Orbis Terrarum - 1574 - Abraham Ortelius

SKU: 3000
  • Cartographer

    Abraham Ortelius 

  • Date


  • Colouring


  • Dimensions (cm)

    Folio (44 x 32)

  • Atlas

    Theatrum Orbis Terrarum 

  • Condition

    Very Good

  • Condition Rating


  • References

    Koeman Ort 12 


  • Reference Number


  • Authenticity Guaranteed


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