Johannes Jansson was a printer, publisher and bookseller working in Arnhem in the Netherlands from about 1597 to 1629. It is his son also named Johannes or Jan that we have to thank for a truly wonderful folio atlas of the British Isles. Jan married Elizabeth Hondius in 1612, the daughter of Jodocus Hondius the elder, a well known name to map collectors. The very same year he started his own business as a publisher of atlases and maps in Amsterdam.
It was also in 1612 that Jodocus Hondius the elder died. Jan Jansson stepped in to help his widowed mother-in-law Colette with the further publication of the Mercator-Hondius atlas. Colette died along with her son Jodocus in 1629 after which time her other son Henricus Hondius teamed up together to produce a completely new revised edition of the Mercator-Hondius atlas. This was named was the Novus Atlas. and first appeared in 1638. Henricus retired from the project two years later in 1640 but Jansson continued to produce eventually his Atlas Maoir which ran to eleven volumes published in many languages including Dutch, French, German and English. A truly magnificent achievement similar to his great rival Jean Blaeu who was working in Amsterdam at the same time.
Just looking at the the maps of the British Isles by Jean Bleau and Jan Jansson you will see many similarities in design. In fact the when beginning to collect county maps you may doubt your decision whether a particular map is by Bleau or Jansson. If you look also at the actual map area, the coastlines, the places, the geography of the county you will find great similarities. This is because copying the work of other cartographers was rife. Far easier to copy something rather than arrange a survey of your own. Much was copied from the maps of John Speed which had been published some thirty years earlier. This meant that some errors continued to be shown on maps for many years before being corrected.
The illustrations below come from the 1647 edition of Atlas Novus in my own collection with original hand colouring. Photographing the maps still in the atlas means that most of the images are not square but should assist in you being able to identify maps you come across.
One thing you might notice when starting to collect antique maps is that you will find many more specimens of Jansson's maps compared to Blaeu's maps have browning to the paper. This must be due to where the two cartographers sourced their paper from. Of all the Jansson and Blaeu atlases that have passed through my hands over the years I have never come across a Jansson atlas as clean and free from browning and spotting as some of the Blaeu atlases I have owned.
I have found that many people starting or thinking of starting to collect antique maps are astounded at how good the condition of some maps can be. In fact they start to suspect the maps are modern reproductions. The reason that many are in such good condition is because they have for the greater part of their lives been shut tightly in an atlas and perhaps rarely looked at or handled. The most dangerous part of their life starts when they are extracted from the atlas. So please handle your maps with care so that future collectors can enjoy the same joy and excitement as yourself.
44 1244 336004
I have been buying and selling antique maps since the early 1960's during which time I had a gallery in Watergate Street, Chester for 30 years. I am now able to offer through my websites a personal service to map and print collectors.