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Willem Janszoon Blaeu

Willem Janszoon Blaeu by Jeremias Falck
Born 9 December 1571
Holland, Seventeen Provinces
Died 21 October 1638 (age 67)
Amsterdam, Holland, Dutch Republic
Nationality Dutch
Occupation Cartographer, atlas maker, publisher

Willem Janszoon Blaeu (9 December 1571, Uitgeest or Alkmaar – 21 October 1638, Amsterdam), also abbreviated to Willem Jansz. Blaeu, was a Dutch cartographer, atlas maker and publisher.

Nova totius terrarum orbis geographica ac hydrographica tabula, Amsterdam 1635
Delft in 1652, by Willem Blaeu

As the son of a well-to-do herring salesman, he was predestined to succeed his father in the trade, but his interests lay more in Mathematics and Astronomy. Between 1594 and 1596 as a student of the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe he qualified as an instrument and globe maker.

Once he returned to the Netherlands, he made country maps and world globes, and as he possessed his own printing works, he was able to regularly produce country maps in an atlas format, some of which appeared in the Atlas Novus published in 1635. In 1633 he was appointed map-maker of the Dutch East India Company. He was also an editor and published the works of Willebrord Snell, Adriaan Metius, Gerhard Johann Vossius and the historian and poet Pieter Corneliszoon Hooft.

He had two sons, Johannes and Cornelis Blaeu, who continued their father's mapmaking and publishing business after his death in 1638. Prints of the family's works are still sold today. Original maps are rare collector items.

One of Blaeu's globes was recently purchased at auction by Maarten Magielse, a Dutch salesman, for the record price of 60.000 euro, about $80.000. Magielse is now renting it to the globe museum in Vienna, where it is exhibited.


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