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Abraham Ortelius Furniture

Dutch, 1527-1598

Abraham Ortelius is widely recognized as the inventor of the atlas and one of the most prominent geographers in history. He is one of the best known and most frequently collected of all sixteenth-century mapmakers, and today, hand-colored, copperplate-printed Abraham Ortelius maps continue to command avid interest.

Ortelius was the eldest of the three children of an Antwerp merchant. After his father's death when he was ten, he was raised by his uncle Jacob Van Meteren — a financier and printer of early English versions of the Bible. Ortelius entered the Guild of Saint Luke in 1547 to become a map copier and colorist, but his hobbies overshadowed his studies. 

Ortelius was better known as a student of history and a collector of books and old coins than a cartographer — only initially garnering modest praise for his skills at mapmaking. Gleaning what he learned from his uncle, he became a dealer in books and prints. In 1554 he attended the annual Frankfurt Book Fair, where he met the highly respected cartographer Gerardus Mercator.

Ortelius refocused his work in mapmaking after that fateful encounter. He eventually published Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World) — a comprehensive collection of maps that he bound into a book. It was the first of its kind and is now recognized as the first modern-day atlas. While creating his atlas, Ortelius observed that the coast of America shared geometrical similarities with the shores of Europe and Africa. When he lined up maps of the coastlines of the continents, they matched — much like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. 

Some have argued that the concept of continental drift is at least partly rooted in Ortelius’s 16th-century-era suggestion that the continents had once been joined together as a single mass of land before the Americas were pulled away from Europe and Africa. Much later, in 1912, German meteorologist Alfred Wegener proposed in a lecture and an article that the continents had once been locked together based on data he collected. Wegener was widely ridiculed at the time, but the foundation of modern-day science of plate tectonics has its origins in his work.

On May 18, 2008, a Google Doodle celebrated the 300th anniversary of Ortelius’s atlas.

On 1stDibs, find original Abraham Ortelius prints, landscape prints and more.

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Creator: Abraham Ortelius
Antique Miniature Map of the Roman Province of Illyricum 'Dalmatia'
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique miniature map titled 'Illyricum'. Original small map of Illyricum. The Roman province of Illyricum stretched from the Drilon River (the Drin, in...
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Early 17th Century Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

Antique Map of the Region of Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Mansfeldiae Comitatus Descriptio'. Original antique map of the region of Mansfeld, Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. Shows the area between Halle a. d. Saale, Aschersleben,...
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Early 17th Century Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

Coloured Antique Map of Sicily, Sardinia, Corfu, Elba, Malta and Zerbi (Jerba)
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Insularum Aliquot Maris Mediterranei Descriptio'. A very attractive example of Ortelius' map combining, on one page, maps of the islands of Sicily, Sardinia, Corfu, Elba, Malta and Zerbi (Jerba, off the coast of Tunisia.) The maps detail fortifications on the islands and other major features. (Jerba, for instance, is shown connected to the mainland by a causeway.) The waters are attractively engraved and are sailed by ships. A shipwreck, north of Malta, indicates the point at which St. Paul is thought to have shipwrecked. Volcanoes are indicated in the Sicily map...
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16th Century Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

Antique Map of the Low Countries by Ortelius, 1584
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Belgii Veteris Typus'. Beautiful map of the Low Countries, extending to the English Channel and part of Britain. This map originates from Ortelius' 'Theatrum Orbi...
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16th Century Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

Antique Map of Southeast Asia by Ortelius '1587'
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Indiae Orientalis Insularumque Adiacientium Typus'. Ortelius includes early European depictions of both Japan and China and is the first to name Formosa (Taiwan). The Philippines and East Indies or Spice Islands are shown based upon Portuguese and Spanish sources, and before their penetration by the Dutch. Japan is shown in kite form, as a large oval island...
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16th Century Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

Antique Map of Mexico by Ortelius, circa 1602
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Hispaniae Novae Sivae Magnae Recens Et Vera Descriptio 1579'. Map of western New Spain, showing the recently-created Spanish settlements, many rivers, and large l...
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Early 17th Century Belgian Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

Abraham Ortelius Map of Greece Hand Colored Engraving Circa 1579
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Atlanta, GA
Copper engraving, printing on paper. Verso text is Latin, original hand coloring. From: From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Antwerpen, Gillis van den Rade, 1575. Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) The maker of the 'first atlas', the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), was born on 4 April 1527 into an old Antwerp family. He learned Latin and studied Greek and mathematics. Abraham and his sisters Anne and Elizabeth took up map colouring. He was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke as an "illuminator of maps." Besides colouring maps, Ortelius was a dealer in antiques, coins, maps, and books, with the book and map trade gradually becoming his primary occupation. Business went well because his means permitted him to start an extensive collection of medals, coins, antiques, and a library of many volumes. In addition, he travelled a lot and visited Italy and France, made contacts everywhere with scholars and editors, and maintained extensive correspondence with them. In 1564 he published his first map, a large and ambitious world wall map. The inspiration for this map may well have been Gastaldi's large world map. In 1565 he published a map of Egypt and a map of the Holy Land, a large map of Asia followed. In 1568 the production of individual maps for his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was already in full swing. He completed the atlas in 1569, and in May of 1570, the Theatrum was available for sale. It was one of the most expensive books ever published. This first edition contained seventy maps on fifty-three sheets. Franciscus Hogenberg engraved the maps. Later editions included Additamenta (additions), resulting in Ortelius' historical atlas, the Parergon, mostly bound together with the atlas. The Parergon can be called a truly original work of Ortelius, who drew the maps based on his research. The importance of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum for geographical knowledge in the last quarter of the sixteenth century is difficult to overemphasize. Nothing was like it until Mercator's atlas appeared twenty-five years later. Demand for the Theatrum was remarkable. Some 24 editions appeared during Ortelius's lifetime and another ten after his death in 1598. Editions were published in Dutch, German, French, Spanish, English, and Italian. The number of map sheets grew from 53 in 1570 to 167 in 1612 in the last edition. In 1577, engraver Philip Galle...
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16th Century British Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Paper

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Previously Available Items
Abraham Ortelius Map of Greece Hand Colored Engraving Circa 1579
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Atlanta, GA
Copper engraving, printing on paper. Verso text is Latin, original hand coloring. From: From: Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, Antwerpen, Gillis van den Rade, 1575. Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) The maker of the 'first atlas', the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1570), was born on 4 April 1527 into an old Antwerp family. He learned Latin and studied Greek and mathematics. Abraham and his sisters Anne and Elizabeth took up map colouring. He was admitted to the Guild of St. Luke as an "illuminator of maps." Besides colouring maps, Ortelius was a dealer in antiques, coins, maps, and books, with the book and map trade gradually becoming his primary occupation. Business went well because his means permitted him to start an extensive collection of medals, coins, antiques, and a library of many volumes. In addition, he travelled a lot and visited Italy and France, made contacts everywhere with scholars and editors, and maintained extensive correspondence with them. In 1564 he published his first map, a large and ambitious world wall map. The inspiration for this map may well have been Gastaldi's large world map. In 1565 he published a map of Egypt and a map of the Holy Land, a large map of Asia followed. In 1568 the production of individual maps for his atlas Theatrum Orbis Terrarum was already in full swing. He completed the atlas in 1569, and in May of 1570, the Theatrum was available for sale. It was one of the most expensive books ever published. This first edition contained seventy maps on fifty-three sheets. Franciscus Hogenberg engraved the maps. Later editions included Additamenta (additions), resulting in Ortelius' historical atlas, the Parergon, mostly bound together with the atlas. The Parergon can be called a truly original work of Ortelius, who drew the maps based on his research. The importance of the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum for geographical knowledge in the last quarter of the sixteenth century is difficult to overemphasize. Nothing was like it until Mercator's atlas appeared twenty-five years later. Demand for the Theatrum was remarkable. Some 24 editions appeared during Ortelius's lifetime and another ten after his death in 1598. Editions were published in Dutch, German, French, Spanish, English, and Italian. The number of map sheets grew from 53 in 1570 to 167 in 1612 in the last edition. In 1577, engraver Philip Galle...
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16th Century Hand-Colored Map of the Burgundy Wine Region of France by Ortelius
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Antique Map of the Region of Apulia by Ortelius, 1612
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Apuliae, quae olim Lapygia nova corographia'. Beautiful map of the region of Apulia, Italy. This map originates from 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' by A. Ortelius.
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Early 17th Century Antique Abraham Ortelius Furniture

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Antique Map of the Region of Calabria by Ortelius, 1612
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Langweer, NL
Antique map titled 'Calabriae Descrip. Per Prosperum Parisium Consent'. Beautiful map of the region of Calabria, Southern Italy. This map originates from 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' by...
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Map of the Americas by Abraham Ortelius, 16th Century Framed Original Engraving
By Abraham Ortelius
Located in Charleston, SC
Rare and fine framed engraving map of the Americas "Americae Sive Novi Orbin Nova Descriptio" by Abraham Ortelius (hand colored later) Ortelius' map of the Americas is the most re...
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Abraham Ortelius furniture for sale on 1stDibs.

Abraham Ortelius furniture are available for sale on 1stDibs. These distinctive items are frequently made of paper and are designed with extraordinary care. There are many options to choose from in our collection of Abraham Ortelius furniture, although brown editions of this piece are particularly popular. If you’re looking for additional options, many customers also consider furniture by Philip Baldaeus, Covens & Mortier, and Arnoldus Montanus. Prices for Abraham Ortelius furniture can differ depending upon size, time period and other attributes — on 1stDibs, these items begin at $377 and can go as high as $3,784, while a piece like these, on average, fetch $724.

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