On 22nd May 1570 the world's first atlas was published; it might not have been called an atlas, but for all intents and purposes that's what it was. The Theatre of the Round World took the sixteenth century by storm and the collection of maps of the world soon gained the name Atlas by 1585.
So, who do we have to thank for its invention? Two Flemish friends: Gerardus Mercator and Abraham Ortelius. The former, and elder, was a true Renaissance intellectual, while the latter had started life as an engraver but, in 1554, had entered the business of dealing in maps. Collecting and redrawing them, decorating and extending them, Ortelius understood how to make a map into a work of art.
And so how did this pair come to collaborate on the project? Well, Mercator's latest map was a great intellectual achievement but it was huge. Recognising its value, it got brought to Ortelius by a trader who asked if he couldn't divide it up into a format suitable for a book. The pair collaborated and the atlas was born. Celebrate their immense intellectual and artistic achievement with our special playlist of music with cartogoraphy in mind...