Mermaids, sea monsters, and polar bears… oh my!
This is our Ortelius Atlas, or Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, compiled by Abraham Ortelius. It features maps by numerous cartographers and is considered the world’s first modern atlas. The illustrations include many interesting and colorful subjects like mermaids, shipwrecks, sea monsters, and polar bears!
The original production of the Ortelius atlas in 1590 marks the beginning of the Netherlandish Golden Age of Cartography, and the map continued to be amended and added to until Ortelius’ death in 1598.
Our atlas is one of the earliest, dating to 1593, and includes a map of Islandia which is credited with the first accurate depiction of polar bears migrating to Iceland via ice floes (even though our map depicts them as brown bears).
Fun fact: Abraham Ortelius is believed to be the first person to imagine continental drift and Pangea!