MERCATOR, Gerard (1512-1594) and MERCATOR Rumold (ca 1545-1599). Galliae Tabule Geographicae. -- Belgii Inferiores Geographicae Tabule -- Germaniae Tabule Geographicae. Duisburg: [not after 1595].
Folio (16 2/8 x 11 2/8 inches). Three engraved title-pages (the first with early abrasion where ownership inscription has been erased) and 50 fine double-page engraved maps, and one full page, all with fine contemporary hand-coloring, descriptive letterpress on the recto of each map, each verso blank, woodcut initials, single blank leaves bound in before the first maps in the Netherlands (Belgii) and Germany sections (early hot wax stains affecting verso of the last map of Hungary). Contemporary limp vellum, yapp fore-edges, title in manuscript on the spine, map of Germany with symmetrical marginal tears, discretely closed, extending 4 inches into the image).
Provenance: early marginal note to +v referencing Christian Sgrothemus.
Mercator's earliest collection of modern maps, first issued in 1585 by Gerard Mercator, initially issued separately or combined with the second part “Italia” published in 1589. This copy conforms with Koeman's collation for the issue of the three parts as they were published as part of the first Mercator atlas “Atlas sive Cosmographicae”, 1595, issue A [Koeman Me13A], although this copy does not include the portrait and has the dedication dated 1585. Koeman argued that the resetting of the text was indicative of the later 1595 issues. Other authorities have argued against this hard and fast rule. The uncolored copy in the Nordenskiold Collection [Nordenskiold 2, 138] conforms broadly to this copy, although with its later binding may well have been taken from a 1595 issue of the larger atlas. It is highly likely, given the popularity of Mercator's work, that the stocks of the 1585 issue ran out before Mercator's death in 1594. Gerard Mercator was paralysed by a stroke in 1590, and the existence of this atlas in its contemporary binding suggests that Gerard or Rumold had the text reset well in advance of the completion of the full atlas, and had continued to sell the three parts as a single volume.
Mercator was born in Rupelmonde in East Flanders. He studied in Louvain under Gemma Frisius, a Dutch astronomer, mathematician, and noted globe-maker, and began his career as a cartographer in that city, where the excellence of his work eventually won him the patronage of Charles V. In order to escape religious persecution, he moved in 1552 to Duisburg. There, he continued to produce maps, globes and instruments, including his most celebrated work, a world map on eighteen sheets drawn to his new projection (1569). In later life he devoted himself to the preparation of his three-volume collection of maps to which, for the first time, the word "atlas" was applied. The word was chosen, he wrote, "to honor the Titan, Atlas, King of Mauritania, a learned philosopher, mathematician, and astronomer." Mercator's sons and grandsons were all cartographers and made their contributions in various ways to the great atlas. His son Rumold, in particular, was responsible for the complete edition of 1595. Koeman Me13A. Catalogued by Kate Hunter, updated by Greg McMurray.