Very elaborate engraving with later hand-coloring from Guillaume and Jean Blaeu's “LE THEATRE DU MONDE...”. Published in Amsterdam, c. 1643. (Image: 15 1/2 x 9 3/8'')
This elaborate title page is raised on a theatrical stage with four women in the center representing the known continents (Asia, Europe, America & Africa).
The top is crowded with many classical elements. In the center is a large armillary sphere flanked by astronomers with a celestial globe and a cartographer, and Geography with a terrestrial globe. Scholars, students and cartographers study a celestial and terrestrial globe.
To the right of the sphere is Apollo with his lyre and Juno to the left, whose four lactating breasts represent the Milky Way. Around them are representations of the four elements: air, fire, earth and water.
“An integral part of map collecting is the study of frontispieces and title pages of atlases. They are usually very elaborate affairs, engraved by the finest craftsmen available, not only announcing the title of the volume, but enticing the viewer to look further into the pages...” (R. B. Williams; Investing in Maps; p.147-9). “It is important that what was once the first and most important display leaf in a valuable work should be treasured…” (Rodney W. Shirley, The Map Collector, #46 p. 17).