Single sheet (15 6/8 x 20 5/8 inches, full margins showing the plate mark). Three fine engraved maps, on a single engraved sheet, of Peru and Central America, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico, and Guatemala, the titles within fine mannerist strapwork cartouches in each map, the Pacific ocean decorated with a large galleon and a sailboat, all with fine original hand-colouring in full, Spanish text on verso.
"This is one of the very few maps printed in the sixteenth century that was based upon original Spanish sources.... THE FIRST REGIONAL MAP OF THE SOUTH-EASTERN PORTION OF NORTH AMERICA... its influence was considerable" (Burden 57).
The rare Spanish edition of this map, first published in 1584, and AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY IN ORIGINAL CONDITION. The map records the discoveries of Hernando de Soto's expedition of 1539-1543. Drawn by the royal Spanish cosmographer, Geronimo de Chaves, who had access to first-hand information from the latest discoveries by Spanish explorers, it is one of the very few maps printed in the sixteenth century that was based upon original Spanish sources. Generally the Spanish were very protective of their knowledge of the Americas, a considerable source of their wealth. Based on de Soto's manuscript, Chaves's La Florida was the earliest printed map of the Gulf Coast from Florida to Texas, and is usually considered the first map to delineate any part of the interior of the present-day United States. The plate contains two other maps of similar Spanish regions of influence, Peruvviae and Guastecan (parts of present day Peru and Guatemala), the latter combining with La Florida to extend the coastline of the Gulf of Mexico further south. La Florida, in particular, influenced all maps of the region for a century and is a primary source document of the first magnitude in the history of discovery and cartography. Few maps of the Southeast had a greater or longer influence on continental mapmakers than this map from Ortelius's atlas.
Ortelius first published his "Theatrum…", arguably the first atlas in the modern sense of the word, in 1570, with 70 seventy copper engravings on fifty-three double-folio pages. A businessman native to Antwerp, Ortelius compiled the best existing maps, re-engraved them on a standardized format, and included them with the text in one volume. But, by 1570, he had been dealing in maps and charts for more than twenty years. The death of Ortelius' father in 1535, who had been a wealthy merchant, seems to have placed his family in financial difficulties. When Ortelius was as young as 19 he is recorded as having joined the Guild of St. Luke as 'afsetter' "or colourist of maps and prints. He seems to have reached a very advanced level of skill in this craft, as some customers continued to insist on buying atlases coloured by him personally at a time when he had already developed into a publisher and cartographer/merchant… Ortelius [also] became a trader in books, prints and maps. Much of this trading had to do with the house of Plantin [subsequently publisher of the 'Theatrum']…Soon he was attending the book fair in Frankfurt to buy and sell books, maps and prints for others as well as for himself. He first met Gerard Mercator there in 1554, which marked the state of a life-long professional relationship and personal friendship… " (van den Broecke page 14).
Through his work Ortelius became quite the cosmopolitan, he travelled extensively to France, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Italy, England and Ireland, and as a result had command of several languages. With the publication of the "Theatrum" came tremendous success and wealth. Giving full credit to the original cartographers, the "Theatrum" was so successful that it was printed three times in 1570 alone. In 1574 Ortelius retained the position of Royal Cosmographer to Phillip II and was given a fine gold necklace, worth 1000 ducats. Between 1570 and 1612 the atlas was published in 42 editions and the 7 languages: Latin, German, Flemish, French, Spanish, English and Italian. Burden 57; van den Broecke 15a.2