The Problematic Sales of the Spanish Ortelius Atlas after 1612

In: Quaerendo
Author: Dirk Imhof1
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  • 1 Curator of the Rare Books and Archives, Plantin-Moretus MuseumAntwerpBelgium
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In 1612, Balthasar I and Jan Moretus II, managers of the Antwerp Plantin Press, were able to buy the copperplates and the stock of Ortelius’s atlas in various languages at the auction of Jan Baptist Vrients’s possessions. The two brothers endeavored to sell what they purchased through various means and sold the copies as if they were new editions.

In this article I trace the sale of Ortelius’s Spanish atlas in detail from 1612 to 1641. After an examination of the initial period of occasional sales between 1612 and 1630, I will turn to the unexpected confiscation of some copies of the atlas in Spain in 1630. I will conclude by demystifying the so-called 1641 edition. In this way, the distribution of Ortelius’s Spanish atlas in the first half of the seventeenth century will offer a remarkable overview of the afterlife of this once influential work.

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