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Dutch printer Joan Blaeu (c.1596-1673) headed the largest printing press in mid seventeenth century Europe. Blaeu’s major life’s work was a multi-volumed grand world atlas, often known as Atlas maior or Grand Atlas. Designed to appeal to the wealthy consumer, the atlas (which was first completed as an 11 volume Latin edition in 1662) boasted fine bindings, lavish hand-coloured maps, detailed engraving and large size. Other language editions appeared within a few years including French and Dutch. In the 17th century, this atlas was the most expensive set of printed books money could buy.
The State Library’s copy of the Grand Atlas is the second French edition (1667) of 12 volumes in printer’s binding.