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Joan Blaeu

(c. 1599-1673)

Joan Blaeu was the eldest son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638), and was probably born in Alkmaar in the province of Noord-Holland in the final years of the 16th century. He was brought up in Amsterdam, and studied law at the University of Leiden before going into partnership with his father in the 1630s.

He became chief cartographer to the Dutch East India Company from 1638, and from 1651 to 1672 he served on the Amsterdam City Council without a break, holding several public offices. He also invested in Dutch colonial interests in North America.

Joan Blaeu main work was Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (or Atlas Maior as it had became known.) Atlas had expanded to between 9 and 12 volumes, depending on the language. With over 3,000 text pages and approximately 600 maps, it was the most expensive book money could buy in the later 17th century.