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#6163 PostNL Stamps - De eerste atlassen (The first atlases)

20200323 PostNL De eerste atlassen (The first atlases).jpg #6164 Postcard TW-2972071 received from TaiwanThumbnails#6162 PostNL EUROPA Stamps - Vogels in Nederland (Birds in the Netherlands)

I always try to send my cards with a special stamp, like this one: De eerste atlassen (The first atlases)

Issued on 23 March 2020 by PostNL, 6 international stamps with total amount of € 9,00

From top left to bottom right; name publisher (lifespan), title of the atlas, publish date (first publish date):
Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), "Theatre, oft toonneel des aerdt-bodems:
waer inne te siene sijn die landt-taferelen der geheeler weerelt: met een corte verclaringe der selver", 1571 (1570)
Gerard de Jode (1509-1591), "Speculum orbis terrarum", 1578
Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), "Gli XVII provincie de gli Paesi Bassi,
come Fiandra, Brabantia, Hollanda & Zelanda etc. con gli termini de gli paesi vicini", 1585
Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612), "Gerardi Mercatoris Altas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura", 1619 (1606)
Willem Jansz. Blaeu (1571-1638), "Atlas major, sive Cosmographia Blaviana, qua solum, salum, coelum, accuratissime describuntur", 1662 (1630)
Johannes Janssonius (1588-1664), "Ioannis Ianssonii Altas contractus, sive Altantis majoris compendium", 1666 (1638)

In 2020 it will be 450 years since the very first ever was published in Antwerp, Belgium. Soon more atlases followed, mainly published in the Netherlands. With the issue of "De eerste atlassen" (The first atlases) stamp sheet on 23 March 2020, PostNL pays attention to 6 notable publishers, their atlases and their maps. The publishers of the six maps are depicted next to the maps. The stamps are marked "Internationaal 1", the denomination for items up to 20 grams in weight destined for delivery outside of the Netherlands. The stamp sheet was designed by Studio Maud van Rossum from Amsterdam. Stephan van der Linden photographed the maps. Lithographer Marc Gijzen has brushed away the discolouration of the maps, creating an image that is as fresh and clear as possible.

In 1570 Abraham Ortelius published the first atlas in Antwerp, with the Latin title "Theatrum orbis terrarum" (literally The theatre of the Earth's surface). A Dutch translation was published in 1571. Antwerp and Amsterdam were important centers for the atlas. That had everything to do with the prominent position of the Netherlands in international trade and shipping. In addition to Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598), the stamps feature the following publishers: Gerard de Jode (1509-1591), Gerard Mercator (1512-1594), Jodocus Hondius (1563-1612), Willem Jansz. Blaeu (1571-1638) and Johannes Janssonius (1588-1664).

These publishers from the low countries were responsible for all kinds of beautiful atlases published in the 16th and 17th centuries. The stamps show not only portraits of the 6 publishers, but also maps of the Netherlands from their atlases. The portraits were made available by the Rijksmuseum. All maps come from atlases from the Allard Pierson collection, The Collections of Amsterdam University. This collection broadly reflects the history of Western cartography, and Dutch cartography in particular. With its 175.000 map sheets and 5000 atlases, the collection is one of the largest in the Netherlands and one of the larger ones in the world.

Because of the legibility, the cards have been placed on the stamp as large as possible. That is why Maud van Rossum, the designer of the stamp sheetlet, left out the page mirror of the atlas page as much as possible. She left only a small border as a frame. The kink in the heart of the page can also still be seen, after all, the map comes from an atlas.

The Antwerp cartographer and geographer Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) is the patriarch of the atlas as we know it today. In the second half of the sixteenth century he collected the best maps available at the time, redesigned or reduced them to one size, provided descriptions of countries and places and bundled them into a book. The first edition, in Latin, was published in 1570; the first Dutch in 1571. Some thirty more editions in different languages would follow. For others, this atlas was the prelude to compiling and publishing their own atlases. What is striking about the maps is that the north is not always at the top of the page. In the sixteenth century this was not yet standardized, but maps are placed on the page as cheaply as possible. This leads to surprising views.

Author
Matthijs van Wageningen
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