Netherlands - The First Atlases

Netherlands – The First Atlases

In 2020 it will be 450 years since the very first atlas appeared in print, in Antwerp. Soon more atlases followed, mainly published in the Netherlands. With the issue of the “The first atlases” stamp sheet on March 23, PostNL pays attention to 6 notable publishers, their atlases and their maps.

Scenic from the ground

In 1570 Abraham Ortelius published the first atlas in Antwerp, with the Latin title Theatrum orbis terrarum (literally: the scene of the earth’s soil). 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.

Portraits and maps

Next to Abraham Ortelius are Gerard de Jode, Gerard Mercator, Jodocus Hondius, Willem Jansz. Blaeu and Johannes Janssonius on the stamps The first atlases. 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. All maps shown are from atlases from the Allard Pierson | collection The Collections of the UvA. The portraits were made available by the Rijksmuseum.

Nod in the middle

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.


Mar 23 2020
The Netherlands


The Netherlands

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