Atlas Maior of 1665

“The Greatest and Finest Atlas ever Published”, by Joan Blaeu, Taschen, Barnes & Noble, New York, Sept. 2006, 416 pages, introduction and text by Peter van der Krogt

ISBN 0760782067, on sale at BarnesandNoble.com for $24.98 plus shipping. Actually, Barnes & Noble has two versions of this book for sale. The original Taschen America volume has 593 pages and is a slightly larger size, ISBN 3822831255. They’ll be happy to send you a copy for $200.00 plus shipping. Both are printed in gorgeous color, in China, of course, so take your pick. Since your reviewer is unable to pass up a bargain map book, you know which he chose. It weighs upwards of five lbs. so it’s another giant book for your lower bookshelves. The modestly priced volume measures 13-1/2 inches tall by 9 inches by 1-3/4 inches thick. How they can print such a book and sell it for this price is amazing.

Anyway, Peter van der Krogt is a great bear of a guy from the University of Utrecht, an expert on globes and Dutch atlases. If you ever visit him in his hometown of Delfft be sure he takes you for Dutch waffles with raisins. Delicious. He showed me the original Blaeu atlas in 11 volumes in Utrecht several years ago. I suspect that now these would be available for something like a cool million bucks, but not from Barnes & Noble.

Peter’s overview of this atlas and the times when it was produced is worth the price of this book alone. Be prepared for a number of double page maps. There are 33 maps of the Americas and naturally 6 times that number of Europe. Hey, folks, this was 350 years ago, and who did you think would buy the originals? All pages are in color from the copy in the Austrian National Library in Vienna. The colors are vivid, maybe too vivid for most surviving copies. We get the words of Joan Blaeu translated into English, German and French and additional discussion where necessary. Even if you don’t collect Blaeu this book would make an excellent present to interest a child in maps. Why not donate a copy to your local library? How better to spend $25?

Reviewed by Bill Warren
From the Society’s May 2007 Newsletter