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Abraham Ortelius: A Resource Guide

This resource guide compiles a list of atlases, print bibliographies, digital images, and published reference sources about the sixteenth-century Flemish cartographer Abraham Ortelius available at the Library of Congress.


Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) was born in Antwerp, Belgium. He began his career as an engraver and map colorist. He became a map publisher during the 1560s. Ortelius published the first modern atlas, the Theatrvm orbis Terrarvm or Theatre of the World in Antwerp in 1570. Before the atlas was published custom "map books" were ordered and bound for individual users. Abraham Ortelius created an atlas with maps of a uniform size, arranged by continents and regions, with descriptions on the reverse of every map. He included a list of the cartographers whose maps were printed in the atlas.

The first Theatrvm orbis Terrarvm was published in 1570 and later revised and expanded into 31 editions. Twenty-five editions were published from 1570 to the year of Ortelius's death in 1598. Later volumes were published posthumously. The Library of Congress holds numerous editions of the atlas. This guide offers links to resources pertaining to Abraham Ortelius that are held in the Library of Congress.These resources include links to catalogued records for the Theatrvm orbis Terrarvm and other books written by Abraham Ortelius, selected reference sources, selected digitized images of his published works and external links.

[Head-and-shoulders portrait of Abraham Ortelius, Flemish cartographer and geographer, facing right (left); and a detail of the Mercator world map of 1569 (right)]. 1886. Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division.