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Blaeu, Willem Janszoon

Blaeu, Willem Janszoon

(b. Alkmaar [?], Holland, 1571; d. Amsterdam, Holland, 21 October 1638)

cartography.

Before beginning his scientific career, Blaeu was a carpenter and a clerk in the Amsterdam mercantile office of his patrician cousin Cornelius Pieterszoon Hooft. His main interests, however, were astronomy and navigation, so in 1595–1596 he worked with Tycho Brahe at the latter’s observatory on the island of Hven, Denmark. He then settled in Amsterdam, where he married Marytje Cornelisdochter. In 1599 Blaeu bought a house on the Y, where he established himself as a merchant of maps and globes, in the making of which he soon became quite proficient.

In constant contact with merchants and navigators, Blaeu was well informed on their latest discoveries. At this time Holland was beginning to send its fleets to Asia, Africa, America, and the Arctic Ocean, and interest in navigation and cartography grew by leaps and bounds. Blaeu’s first terrestrial globe dates from 1599; his first celestial globe, from 1602. In 1605 he published his first world map, Nova universi terrarum orbis mappa; his sea atlas, Het Licht der Zeevaert, appeared in 1608. He moved his shop to the Damrak “in de vergulde Sonnewyzer” (“at the sign of the gilded sundial”), where he also began to publish maps made by others, thus laying the foundation of his once-famous world atlas, Novus atlas (1634).

In 1633 Blaeu became the official cartographer of the Dutch East India Company. Four years later he moved his printing plant to the Bloemgracht, where, with its specially designed presses, its foundry of special types, and its rooms for engravers and collectors, it became a showplace.

After Blaeu’s death the business was continued by his sons Joan and Cornelis. The Bloemgracht plant continued operations until 1650, and the bookstore at the Damrak remained open. In 1672 a fire destroyed its warehouse, but the firm was in the family until 1695–1696, under the management of Joan’s sons Willem, Pieter, and Joan. The establishment was then taken over by J. Van Keulen.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. Blaeu’s main works are Nova universi terrarum orbis mappa (Amsterdam, 1605); Het Licht der Zeevaert (Amsterdam, 1608); and Novus atlas (Amsterdam, 1634), trans. into Dutch as Toonneel desAerdrycks, 4 vols. (Amsterdam, 1635–1645), with various later eds. entitled Atlas major, Le grand atlas, and Grooten Atlas in 9–12 vols. (Amsterdam, 1662–1665). The various known eds. are listed by Baudet and Stevenson (see below).

II. Secondary Literature. Works on Blaeu are P. J. H. Baudet, Leven en Werken van Willem Jansz. Blaeu (1959), p. 73, believes this and Notice sur la part praise par W. J. Bleau… dans la determination des longitudes terrestres (Utrecht, 1875); J. Keuning, “Blaeu’s Atlas,” in Imago mundi, 14 (1959), 74–89; H. Richter, “William Jansz. Blaeu with Brae on Hven,” ibid., 3 (1939), 53–60; E. L. Stevenson, William Janszoon Blaeu (New York, 1914), with facsimile repro. of 1605 world map in 18 sheets and Terrestrial and Celestial Globes 2 vols. (New Haven, 1921).

D. J. Struik

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Janszoon, Willem

Willem Janszoon (vĬ´ləm yän´sōn) fl. late 16th–early 17th cent., Dutch navigator and colonial governor; his name also appears was Jansz or Janssen. Janszoon served (1603–11, 1612–16, 1618–28) in the Dutch East Indies. Sailing on the Duyfken [dovekin] from Bantam, Java, in 1605, he sailed along the S New Guinea coast and crossed over to what is now the Carpentaria Bay coast of Queensland, becoming (1606) the first European explorer known for certain to have sighted and landed in Australia (though he believed it to be part of New Guinea). He was the colonial governor of Ft. Henricus, Solor (1612–16), and of Banda (1623–27) and rose to the rank of admiral.

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Blaeu, Willem Janszoon

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (vĬ´ləm yän´sōn blou), 1571–1638, Dutch cartographer and printer. He studied astronomy and instrument making under the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe. The printing establishment he founded in Amsterdam was famed for its fine instruments, marine publications, globes and atlases, and especially for the folio atlas that he compiled. Blaeu designed new presses incorporating important innovations; his shop was recognized as one of the best in that period. The sons and grandsons of Blaeu continued his work.

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"Blaeu, Willem Janszoon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 17 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Blaeu, Willem Janszoon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 17, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blaeu-willem-janszoon

"Blaeu, Willem Janszoon." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Retrieved August 17, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/reference/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/blaeu-willem-janszoon