A Vast Atlas Showing Mid-17th Century Cities of the Low Countries, with Plates in Fine, Fresh Contemporary Hand Coloring, the Earl of Oxford's Copy


(Amsterdam: Johanne Blaeu, [27 September] 1649). 570 x 355 mm. (22 1/4 x 14"). 10 p.l., [270] pp. Third Edition.

Publisher's decorated vellum, gilt, covers with floral roll frame, leafy floral cornerpieces and large central lozenge, smooth spine in compartments with central palmette, blue morocco label, yapp edges. ENGRAVED TITLE PAGE WITH ARMORIAL FRAME AND A TOTAL OF 147 ENGRAVINGS--eight in the text (one of these double-page), four full-page, one folding map, and 134 double-page plates (56 with four images, one with three, 12 with two, and 63 with one), ALL FINELY COLORED BY A CONTEMPORARY HAND. Verso of title page with engraved armorial bookplate of Lord Harley (see below) dated 1714 and with small reproduction of a portrait of Harley's father, the Earl of Oxford and Mortimer, pasted below it; verso of dedication leaf with small ex-libris of Clement Ferguson; rear pastedown with 19th century map of the Low Countries pasted on, along with another Ferguson ex-libris. Koeman I, 67. Vellum somewhat soiled and worn, boards tending to splay, but the unsophisticated original binding quite sound. A bit of browning right at edges of leaves, with occasional chips or short tears, a couple of bifolia a little browned, other trivial imperfections, but a copy with extremely ample margins and almost entirely FINE AND FRESH INTERNALLY, WITH LOVELY COLORING.

Still in its original binding, this is a beautifully hand-colored copy of Blaeu's atlas showing the region of the Low Countries—comprising territory that is now Belgium—left under the control of the Spanish crown after the Peace of Munster ended the Dutch War of Independence (1568-1648). In his bibliography of the great Dutch atlases, Koeman says that "of all the Blaeu atlases, the townbooks of the Netherlands are held in the highest esteem in the Netherlands," and van der Krogt says that the maps "show the proud and industrious cities of the North in their full splendor." Our third edition in Latin, published at the same time as the first edition in Dutch, is especially valued because its maps reflect changes in the political situation that occurred after the publication of the first and second editions earlier in the year; and it contains four additional engravings included here for the first time. These show views and plans of Thérouanne (Tarvenna) and a plan of Aire (Aria), and the detailed maps of the towns of Gulich and Lingen (Linga). The mostly double-page engravings are made up of topographical maps, city plans, and views of the towns, with all three sometimes combined, via vignettes and insets, into the same engraving. The very expert contemporary hand coloring brings a liveliness and immediacy to the scenes and views. A companion volume featuring the towns of the new Dutch Republic ("Urbium Belgicae Foederatae") was issued simultaneously with our volume, but the two atlases are often found separately. Joan [or Johannes] Blaeu (1596-1673) and his father Willem (1571-1638) were major figures in the golden age of the Dutch/Netherlandish School of cartography in the 16th and 17th centuries. Joan served as the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company, then the leading player in global trade. Our volume has a distinguished provenance. Previous owner Edward Harley, 2nd Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer (1769-1841), but styled Lord Harley between 1711 and 1724, was one of the great bibliphiles of his day. His library was purchased in 1841 by London's leading second-hand bookseller and auctioneer, Thomas Osborne, for the princely sum of £13,000 (nearly £2 million in today's money). Harley's father Robert, 1st Earl of Oxford and Earl Mortimer (1661-1724) was chief minister to Queen Anne from 1711-14, and his tenure was tied closely to the Netherlands. His government was instrumental in negotiating the Treaty of Utrecht, which ended the War of the Spanish Succession and re-established the balance of power in Europe following the 1700 death of the childless Charles II of Spain. As a result of this treaty, the Spanish Netherlands were ceded to the Austrian Empire.

Price: $150,000.00