Previously unrecorded price list for Blaeu’s globes

By BLAEU, Johannes, 1674 
£20,000
£16,000

Alle de Globen en Spheren van wijlen Joan Blaeu die van wegen zijn Erfgenamen te bekomen zijn.

Ephemera
  • Author: BLAEU, Johannes
  • Publication place: [Amsterdam]
  • Publisher: by Albert magnus, op de Nieuwendijk, in den Atlas,<br />
  • Publication date: 1674–1689
  • Physical description: Letterpress broadside.
  • Dimensions: 197 by 118mm. (7.75 by 4.75 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 13003

Notes

A previously unrecorded price list for terrestrial globes (i.e. Globen”), and celestial globes (i.e. Spheren”) from the estate of Joan Blaeu, offered for sale by Albert Magnus, in the Nieuwendijk, in den Atlas”.

The globes and spheres are offered singly, and in pairs, by diameter in duim (roughly equivalent to one inch): 26, 14, 13 ½, 10 ½, 9, 6, and 4 dium; coloured and uncoloured. This list suggests a more comprehensive output of Blaeu globes than is known to be the case. A comparison with the catalogue of the Blaeu inventory Catalogue des atlas, theatre des citez globes, spheres, & cartes geographiques & marines, mis en lumiere’ (1670–1671), known in only one example, at the Plantin-Moretus Museum in Antwerp, reveals that the 14, 10 ½, and 6 dium globes are by actually Colom, Kaerius, Hondius and Metius.

For believers in a geocentric, as well as followers of a heliocentric celestial system, Blaeu did make both Ptolemaic celestial globes, the Ptolemaic offered singly in 26, 13 ½, 9, 6, and 5 dium, and a Copernican celestial globe in two versions — general, and his piece-de-resistance, the Sphaera Copernici particularis’, which came with clockwork gears, designed as a planetarium. Instructions on how to operate the sphere were available in Willem Janszoon Blaeu’s Tweevoudig Onderwijs van de Hemelsche en Aerdsche Globen’ (1634).

Albert Magnus, one of the finest Dutch book binders as well as a publisher and book dealer, acquired parts of the surviving stock at the Blaeu estate auctions in 1674 and 1677, and resold the inventory in subsequent years. The present price list must have been issued between 1674, the year of the first auction and 1689, the death of Magnus. Magnus advertised the sale of Blaeu globes in the Oprechte Haarlemse Courant’ number 19, 1678, and it is possible that this price list was printed to accompany that.

However, it is known that in 1682 Jan Jansz. van Ceulen (not to be mistaken for his namesake, the publisher of sea charts) purchased all the remaining copper plates and tools for globe making from the heirs of Joan Blaeu, that had survived the devastating fire at the Blaeu workshop in 1672. When van Ceulen died in 1689 an inventory of his stock was created, which bears a strong resemblance to the Blaeu catalogue of 1670–71, and the current list.

Magnus seems to have acted as an appraiser for the van Ceulen estate and an auction was held in the autumn of the same year, prior to Magnus’s death shortly thereafter. The map seller and atlas publisher Johannes de Ram bought the globe factory’ including the copper plates. Interestingly, in about 1690 he published an undated price list, also known in only one example, at the Bibliothèque Mazarine, Paris. It too is very similar to the Blaeu catalogue of 1670–71 and the current list.

Magnus was clearly an important figure in the post-Joan Blaeu globe trade, even though he may never have owned the copper plates himself. As no major archives of the great Amsterdam map and globe makers of the seventeenth century have survived, the current price list, a rare ephemeral survival from the Dutch golden age, is of significant importance. 

Image gallery

/