Fol.: [8, engraved title included] lvs, 53 + 1 extra pls,  lvs (pls 6 & 7 bound after 8, 21 after 22, 23 after 24, tear in title and world map, ms. annotation pl. 10, browned throughout, several stains and tears and an occasional corner missing or repaired, some maps cropped).
Cont. full calf, gilt spine on raised bands (reading copy, joints defective, covers worn).
Rare first edition and first variant printed at Ortelius' expense by Gielis Coppens van Diest. Complete copy including the engraved allegorical title with female personifications of the 5 continents and 53 maps with Latin text by Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) on verso. The first large modern atlas and a landmark in the history of cartography outlining the standards of all later atlases with text and maps in a uniform format and presentation. The present Latin edition is provided with 3 scientific appendices: the "Catalogus Auctorum" with 87 names, the letter "De Mona Druidum Insula... Epistola" by the British geographer Humphrey Llwyd (c. 1527-1568), and the "Synonymia Locorum Geographicorum" or alphabetical list of toponyms. Given that the colophon is dated 20 May 1570, our copy is probably one of the only 40 copies delivered on 17 June 1570 to Plantin, who himself started printing the "Theatrum" from 1579 onwards. Plantin, on his turn, gave it as a "very beautiful" present to the Flemish humanist Dominicus Lampsonius (1532-1599) on 18 October 1570, as is calligraphically stated in the lower border of the engraved title page: “Christophorus Plantinus Typographus Anuerpianus Dominico Lampsonio pulcherrimum hoc munus dono misit. xviij Octob. 1570.”. When Lampsonius later had the copy (re)bound, it was probably enriched with the map of Liège, entitled “Leodiensis Dioecesis Typus” (blank verso) and first published in Plantin’s 1584 edition. Little is known about the contacts between the shrewd businessman Plantin and the influential secretary of the powerful Liège Prince-Bishops (see J. Puraye, Dominique Lampson. Humaniste. [Bruges], 1950). However, in a letter of 2 November 1587 to his friend Abraham Ortelius, Lampsonius declares that he is and always will be immensely grateful to Plantin for two beautiful presents: “Alioqui et Plantino me plurimum debere fateor de duobus eius pulc[h]errimis donis, Theatro tuo [sc. Ortelii] primae editionis [the present copy], et Vitis Architectorum Sculptorum et Pictorum Italorum a Georgio Vasari conscriptis, ac recognitis, atque auctis, de quibus nondum ei [sc. Plantino] gratus fui, sed, Deo iuuante, futurus sum” (ed. J.H. Hessels, Abrahami Ortelii ... Epistulae. Cambridge, 1887, p. 354 Letter nr. 154 - Lampsonius’ original letter presently in The Hague, Koninklijke Bibliotheek, MS 79 C 4 (094), fols 121-122 [www. http://emlo.bodleian.ox.ac.uk ]; Lampsonius’ copy of Vasari currently in the KBR Brussels, V[an] H[ulthem] 22345 - see Puraye p. 37 & Pl. VI). Ref. van der Krogt IIIA [31:001A]. - van der Krogt IIIB [3360:31]. - van den Broecke Ort 63. Prov. Dominicus Lampsonius (ms. annotation). Cond. report on request.
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