Janssonius’ new miniature edition of the Mercator-Hondius atlas

By JANSSONIUS, Johannes and KAERIUS, Petrus, 1648 


Asia Japan
  • Author: JANSSONIUS, Johannes and KAERIUS, Petrus
  • Publication place: [Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Johannes Janssonius
  • Publication date: 1648].
  • Physical description: Engraved map, German text on verso.
  • Dimensions: 182 by 236mm. (7.25 by 9.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 15873


Published in the second German edition (1648) of Janssonius’ new edition of the miniature version of the Mercator-Hondius, Atlas Minor Gerardi Mercatoris a I. Honius pluri-mis aeneis Tabulis…’. This atlas was one of a series launched by Janssonius before he joined forces with Henricu Hondius in 1629, filling the gap left by the sale of the copperplates for the Atlas Minor’ sometime after 1621, and taken to England where they were first used in the 1624 edition of Hakluytus Posthumus or Purchas His Pilgrimes. The new Janssonius maps were engraved by Pieter van den Keere (Petrus Kaerius). The maps were slightly larger than those in Hondius’ Atlas Minor’ ” (Hubbard). The first edition appeared with Latin text in 1628, followed by a French edition in 1630, a Dutch edition also in 1630, two German editions in 1631 and 1648, and a further Latin edition in 1634.

The map is a direct copy of the map included in the original folio edition of the Mercator-Hondius atlas of 1606, but without some of the decorative elements, and using larger lettering for the place-names. Between 1630 and 1631, the copperplate began to develop a crack on the right-hand side, near the graticule scale at 35 degrees north latitude.

In 1570 Abraham Ortelius published the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum’, the first collection of maps with a uniform size and style. It was an immediate success. Gerard Mercator (1512–94), the inventor of the projection named after him, began in 1585 to produce a series of Tabulae Geographicae’ of differing European countries. This culminated in 1595 in the Atlas Sive Cosmographicae’, the first use of the term Atlas’. It contained 107 maps of the world. Mercator is one of the giants in the history of cartography; it is he who began the scientific study of the subject. This atlas was completed by his son Rumold, Gerard having died the year before. There was one further edition in 1602 before the plates were acquired by Jodocus Hondius I (1563–1612). He published it as Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas Sive Cosmographicae’ in 1606 with 37 newly engraved maps, taking the total to 144. Publication had moved from Duisburg to Amsterdam and the first few editions were in Latin. With this atlas Jodocus established the Hondius publishing house in Amsterdam, the center of cartographic production in the late sixteenth century, and built a successful publishing career from his Mercator-Hondius atlas. After his father’s death in 1612, Jodocus Hondius II and his brother, Henricus, took over the family business and began to publish their own atlases, including maps that had previously belonged to their father. Unfortunately, in 1621 Jodocus Hondius II split with his brother, creating a rival publishing house. Henricus Hondius continued his father’s business with his brother-in-law, Joannes Jansson” (Krogt). By 1629 the Blaeu family were becoming serious rivals to the publishing partnership of Jan Jansson and Hendricus Hondius, so they set about revising the Mercator-Hondius atlas which (in respect of the world map) had continued unchanged for nearly thirty-five years” (Shirley 336).


  1. Hubbard 17.06
    • Hubbard, J. and Mihama, Y. (2012). Japoniæ insulæ. Houten: HES & De Graaf Publishers BV.
  2. van der Krogt 352:32.
    • Koeman, C and van der Krogt, Pieter (2000–2010). Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici. MS’t Goy-Houten: HES & De Graaf Publishers. 9 vols.