Brazil in 1630

August 5th, 2016

As we await the opening ceremony for the Rio Olympics, we are reminded of a 17th-century map of Brazil atop the card catalog in Special Collections. The map, gift of Cyril W. Nave, class of 1919, is housed in an elaborate free-standing wooden frame. The map itself measures 36 x 47 cm, and is oriented with north to the right rather than the top. The map, entitled Accuratissima Brasiliæ tabula, is the work of Hendrik Hondius (1597-1651), one of the two sons of the Flemish cartographer Jodocus Hondius. It was published in Amsterdam in 1630.

We’ll be happy to retrieve the map from its current perch if you would like to see it on your next visit to Special Collections. Or you can get a closer virtual look at a comparable map from

Hondius map of Brazil from Getty Images

Closer to home, the American Geographical Society Library at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee holds other maps and globes produced by one or another of the Hondius family, some of them available as part of the American Geographical Society Library Digital Collection.

For more about the history of cartography, including 17th-century maps, please see the magisterial work of the History of Cartography Project, especially volume 3, Cartography in the European renaissance. Volumes 1-3 of the series are available online through the University of Chicago Press.

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