Object Number: AF-MI-K012

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Place Made
Belgium, Flanders, Antwerp
Date Made
A brightly colored map of Iceland from the Italian, 1608/1612 edition of Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theater of the World) by Abraham Ortelius and published in Antwerp in a 300 copy print run. This was the first edition printed in Italian text by Jan Baptista Vrients. The map is notable for the fantastic collection of monsters illustrated in the sea surrounding the island and the eruption of the volcano Mt. Hekla. On the verso begins the chapter on "La Islandia" in Italian text (115r). The last line on the first text page, right alighted is transcribed: "melata." The last line on the second text page, left alighted: "Suyd, Mezo di: Fior, significa quattro." Exhibition label: This map was published in one of many editions of Ortelius' 'Theatrum Orbis Terrarum' (Theater of the World). "The publication of this atlas marked an epoch in the history of cartography. It was the first uniformly sized, systematic collection of maps of the countries of the world based only on contemporary knowledge since the days of Ptolemy, and in that sense may be called the first modern atlas. ...It is said that the great Mercator delayed publication of his own atlas in order that his younger friend Ortelius might have the honor of being first in the field with a standardized atlas." (Maps and Map-Makers, R. V. Tooley). In a letter to Ortelius Gerard Mercator wrote, "I have examined your 'Theatrum' and compliment you on the care and elegance with which you have embellished the labours of the authors, and the faithfulness with which you have preserved the production of each individual, which is essential in order to bring out the geographical truth, which is so corrupted by mapmakers." (The Story of Maps, L. A. Brown).
Major Collection
Named Collection
Allan Forbes Collection

More Details

19 in x 23 in
Item Count
Cite This Item
"Islandia", Engraving, 1608. MIT Museum, Cambridge MA.
Copyright Restrictions
Some restrictions on use. Please contact MIT Museum.
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