Phillip CLÜVER: “Germania Antiqva
Leiden, Elzevir 1616. Folio, 32×21,5cm.
Contemporary vellum, (soiling, broken parts on spine) 11 maps and 26 single- or double page engravings.
Title-page frayed and with a tear.
Paper is age-toned throughout.
The man behind the book
Clüver was an antiquary, who was appointed at Leiden as geographer and put in charge of the university’s library, but his life’s ambition, it developed, was a general study of the geography of Antiquity, based not only on classical literary sources, but – and this was his contribution – supplemented by wide travels and local inspections. He became the founder of historical geography.
Clüver’s first work, in 1611, concerning the lower reaches of the Rhine and its tribal inhabitants in Roman times touched a source of national pride among the Seventeen Provinces, for the Dutch were enjoying a twelve years’ truce in their Eighty Years’ War of liberation.
Clüver’s Germaniae antiquae libri tres depends on Tacitus and other Latin authors. A volume on the antiquities of Sicily, with notes on Sardinia and Corsica is a useful source, with many reference from writers of Antiquity and maps that are often detached and sold to map collectors. His Introductio in universam geographiam was the first comprehensive modern geography, and became a standard geographical textbook.
Clüver was also a prolific a writer on mathematical and theological subjects. He is remembered by collectors and historians of cartography for his edition of Ptolemy’s Geographia and for miniature atlases that were reprinted for most of the 17th century.