Moluccae Insulae Celeberrimae


Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571 - 1638)

An excellent example of Dutch cartographic art by the most esteemed map making firm. In 1629, upon the death of Jodocus Jr., the Hondius family sold approximately forty copper plates to Blaeu, a transaction they were soon to regret. Blaeu … Read Full Description


S/N: ASI-1750-BLAE-002–222973
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Full Title:

Moluccae Insulae Celeberrimae




Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571 - 1638)


Wide margins, minor tears to outer sheet edges, small split at top sheet edge of centrefold, otherwise in good condition.


Copper engraving with original hand colouring

Image Size: 

x 370mm

Paper Size: 

x 505mm
Moluccae Insulae Celeberrimae - Antique Map from 1631

Genuine antique



An excellent example of Dutch cartographic art by the most esteemed map making firm. In 1629, upon the death of Jodocus Jr., the Hondius family sold approximately forty copper plates to Blaeu, a transaction they were soon to regret. Blaeu replaced the attribution to Hondius with his own name and published many of the maps, including this one of the Moluccas, in his Atlantis Appendix of 1630. It features a decorative title cartouche supported by a pair of exotic fish, galleons, sea monsters, two compass roses and a pair of natives.

Much of the new interest for maps of the East Indies was generated by the publication of Linschoten’s Itinerario (1596) which for the first time, revealed detailed secret Portuguese information on the trading routes to the East and importantly the exact location of the Spice Islands. These islands were the only known source of cloves, nutmeg and mace and became enormously lucrative for the VOC which was formed as a direct result of Linschoten’s accounts. The VOC, like the Portuguese before them, attempted to maintain secrecy over their navigational information that was collected directly from their ships sailing to and from the East. Captains provided detailed sailing charts and voyage logs to the VOC administration in Batavia, who would make additions to existing charts or draw new ones if necessary. The VOC were always endeavouring to make their operations more efficient and having regularly updated charts provided added security for their ships. By 1617, all VOC ships sailing to the Indies were instructed to use the new route pioneered by Hendrik Brouwer in 1611 that utilised the strong westerly winds known as the Roaring Forties. These instructions, known as the Seynbrief, were to have important consequences for the charting of the Australian coast. After rounding the Cape, ships were required to sail south to latitude 35°- 44° S and after finding the winds, sail eastwards for at least 1,000 miles before turning due north for the Sunda Straits. Importantly, further instructions in the Seynbrief stated ‘If on the other hand one alters course before covering 1,000 miles, one is running the risk of being driven off course to the shores of Sumatra. Because of the south easterly winds which blow in that region from April to October inclusive, one is likely to be becalmed there for a long time’.(Schilder p.58) Ship captains faced several challenges, not least of which was the inaccurate process for measuring longitude involving the use of a knotted rope and log thrown into the sea while the ship sailed and timed with an hour glass. The new Brouwer route forced ships to sail close to the Australian coast before turning north. It was inevitable that some Dutch ships sailing in accordance with the Seynbrief would find themselves off course and make contact with the Western Australian coast as they sailed for the Indies.

References: Parry p.107-108, ill.pl.4.19, Suarez p.201, ill.fig.114


Willem Janzoon Blaeu  (1571-1638)

One of the most influential mapmakers of the Golden Age of mapmaking.

Blaeu was born at Uitgeest or Alkmaar, the son of a herring salesman and destined to succeed his father in the trade, but his interests lay more in Mathematics and Astronomy. Between 1594 and 1596 he was a student of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe and qualified as an instrument and globe maker. In 1600 he discovered the second ever variable star now known as P Cygni. On his return to the Netherlands, he published his own maps and world globes. He ran his own printing works which allowed him to continually update his own atlases such as his, Atlas Novus published in 1635.

In 1633 he was appointed map-maker for the VOC .

He died in Amsterdam in 1638 and his business was continued by his two sons, Johannes and Cornelis Blaeu.

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