Title/Content of Map: Helvetiae Descriptio Date Printed: 1584Cartographer: Abraham OrteliusMaterial/Medium: No color, thick paper. Latin text on verso. From the first modern atlas- the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum by Abraham Ortelius.Size: 17.5 x 22 inches
750 copies printed originally. Few loose copies remaining. Copies available for sale on line start at about $400. More background: Map of Switzerland. Title: HELVETIAE DESCRIPTIO | AEGIDIO TSCHVDO AVCT. [A representation of Switzerland by Ægidius Tschudi]. (Underneath the title a panel with 9 lines of text:) "Helvetiorum fines habent in longitudine CCXL millia paßum, a:|it Cæsar libro I quod & hodie verum est. Nam sunt a medietate | lacus Acronij Genevam usque, miliaria Helvetica ut ipsi computant | XXX. In latitudinem autem inter Renum vel Iuram versus fi:|nitima Alpium LXXX millia passum, quem X vel XI miliari:|a Helvetica efficiunt. Continet autem miliarem Helveticum, ut nûc | vtuntur, spacium duarum horarum equestris; duarum & dimi:|diæ pedestris itineris. Computantur ergo octo millia paßuum | Italicorum pro uno miliaro Helvetico Cum priuilegio". [In longitude, the borders of Switzerland are 240 thousand strides, reports Cæsar in his first book, which is still true today. For from the middle of lake Boden to lake Geneva there are 30 Swiss miles, as they count them, in latitude, between the Rhine or Jura towards the beginnings of the Alps is 80 thousand strides, which the Swiss reckon to be 10 or 11 Swiss miles. Thus this extends in Swiss miles as they now use them for a distance of two hours by horse or two and a half day on foot. Eight thousand Italian strides are thus equal to one Swiss mile. With privilege]. (Top left:) "Euoluere dicitur | hic lacus aureas | arenas per Min:|cium fluuium [It is said that this lake produces gold grains of sand, brought by the river Mincius]. (From leading Ortelius scholar Marcel van den Broecke.)
Abraham Ortelius (1527 - 1598) was a Flemish cartographer & geographer, celebrated as the creator of the first modern atlas, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World). Ortelius' work, the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, was the first uniformly sized, systematic collection of maps; this work can therefore be called the first atlas (although the term was not used until 20 years later by Mercator).
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