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Mapping Early Modern Worlds
Gerard Mercator's Atlas

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Gerard Mercator's Atlas

Although Ortelius was the first to publish a modern atlas, Gerard Mercator was the first to use the word "atlas" to refer to a collection of maps in a volume. The title of Mercator’s Atlas was not based on the name of the Titan forced to support the heavens on his head, but rather was the name of a legendary king of Libya, a philosopher and astronomer who is supposed to have constructed the first globe. Mercator’s world map of 1569, drawn on the projection that bears his name, was one of his most significant achievements, but equally significant was his Atlas, to which he devoted the final twenty-five years of his life and which he had not completed when he died. Two parts appeared in 1585 and 1589, but the final part was seen through the press after Mercator’s death by his son Rumold in 1595.



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Gerardus Mercator. Atlas. Amsterdam, 1630

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