South America (with Cusco) – America Meridionalis
Date of first edition: 1606
Date of this edition: 1606-1630
Dimensions (not including margins): 35,5 x 49,5 cm
Dimensions (including margins): 44,7 x 55,2 cm
Condition: Very good. Sharp copper engraving printed on paper. Centre fold. Superb colouring. Along bottom margin: traces of previous framing.
Condition rating: A
Verso: blank. Old handwriting at verso.
From: Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas sive cosmographicae meditationes de fabrica mundi et fabricati figura. Van der Kroght 9800:1A
South America and Cusco: to discover the New World
About 50 years after Ruscelli, Jodocus Hondius publishes this masterpiece in 1606. Unlike Ruscelli, Hondius mentioned and called the site of the first landing on Brazilian soil: according to him, Pedro Alvares Cabral put foot at Terra de Vera Cruz on April 22, 1500. This is shown on this map as s. Cruz, now part of the s. Seguro.
A strange element on this map is the watershed of Brazil: the Rio Grande (a tributary of the Amazon river) runs southward up to a fictional lake which continues into another river culminating in the Rio de la Plata. So, Brazil is through waterways absolutely separated from the rest of South America. This is further emphasized by the placement of the name “Brasilia” (and its green coloring) which is completely disconnected from the rest of the continent. The origin of this special display is not known. Portuguese and Brazilian experts report in seminars that “this” is not a Portuguese concept. So, this implicitly suggests that the splitting of the continent was a Dutch idea. (But their scholars are in doubt. So, more cartographic investigation may be needed).
On the equator one discovers a large mythical more: “Parime lacus”. After his failed attempt at establishment of a colony in Roanoke (North Carolina) in 1585, Sir William Raleigh was attracted by the gold of the South. In 1595 he set up an expedition to Guiana and thereupon published his “The Discovery of Guiana” (in 1596) with an exaggerated story about the El Dorado. This English “discovery” even accelerated the already existing gold rush to these places. Moreover, Jodocus Hondius published this map a few years later with specific reference to Raleigh! The reference to this fictional Parime lake was part of Sir William Raleigh’s voyage as noted by Hondius. At the bottom zooms a magnified Tierra del Fogo zoom up: the great imaginary south land.
In the West Hondius pictures a more or less independent Chile region: Chile was not explored by the Spanish by boat through the Strait of Magellan, but through expeditions from the North of the continent. After a first short exploration in this “Nueva Toledo” in 1537, when Diego de Almagra in 1537 disappointingly had to accept that this region possessed no gold and silver stocks that were equivalent to those of Peru, the country was first abandoned. It was only colonized by Pedro de Valdivia as from 1540. In 1541 he founded Santia de Chili (he founded this city on February 12, 1541 naming it Santiago del Nuevo Extremo, as homage to the region of his origins).