Hondius map of Virginia & the Chesapeake


Henricus Hondius after John Smith.  “Nova Virginiae Tabula.”  Amsterdam: H. Hondius, 1647.  15 x 19 3/8.  Engraving.  Strong, original hand color, with some oxidation expertly strengthened.  Overall, very good condition.  Latin text on verso.  Framed.

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Henricus Hondius’ derivative of the famous John Smith map of Virginia, the first printed map to focus on the Chesapeake Bay.  John Smith was part of the first English settlement in North America.  Smith arrived in Jamestown in the spring of 1607 and went to work surveying the Chesapeake region in order to compile a map of the “New Virginia” colony.  This was first published in Smith’s account of 1612, and because of its importance it was soon copied by Jodocus Hondius Jr. in 1618.  A decade later, Amsterdam publisher Willem Blaeu purchased a large collection of Jodocus Hondius’ plates from his widow, including this one, which he began to issue with his own imprint.   Henricus Hondius, Jodocus’ brother, together with Jan Jansson, were beginning to issue their own series of atlases, and with the sale of the Virginia plate to Blaeu, Henricus needed to produce his own new plate.  This is a faithful copy of the original Jodocus Hondius plate, though the decorative vignettes were copied in mirror Image (the Indian on the right now looks to the left).  Also the British royal coat-of-arms now appears.

As the first printed map of Virginia, the Smith rendering in all its versions had a profound impact on the mapping of the colony, standing as the prototype for the region from the beginning of the seventeenth century well into its second half.  The map shows the information gathered by Smith’s exploration of the Chesapeake Bay, the limits of which are indicated by a series of crosses.  Also shown are the surrounding Indian settlements, as well as the settlement at Jamestown.  In the upper left corner is an inset showing Powhatan’s hut, and the right side is graced by a colorful coat-of-arms and an illustration of a native taken from De Bry.   One interesting feature of the map is its western orientation, which shows the Chesapeake region as it would have been seen by a passenger in a ship sailing from Europe.