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Alain Manesson Mallet (1630 – 1706)

was a French well travelled military engineer, mathematician and cartographer.
He made a career in the army of King Louis XIV who appointed him „Maitre de Mathematiques“. His main work is the five volume cosmography „Description de l‘Univers“, published in 1683 which describes the landscapes, villages, ports and people with their habits and traditions in the regions of the known world. The atlas also contains numerous maps, including a map of the North Atlantic and this map of Iceland. Two years later Mallet published the German edition titled „Beschreibung des gantzen Welt-Kreysses“ which comprises a map of Iceland which is not only different but curious.

Size: 10 x 15 cm
Image: Coloured
Year: 1683

Map details

This extremely rare chart of Iceland „is undated, but was probably made some time around 1720. The basis is the map of Iceland by Joris Carolus, not other sea charts by the van Keulens“ ( and was most likely published in one of the editions of the „Zee-Fakkel“.

The title of this detailed and beautifully coloured map is placed on top of the map. Rhumb lines are intersecting three compass roses, two in the ocean and one in the interior of the country. There are two distance scales in the lower left corner. Above them is an information on the author, his address and his patent: „te Amsterdam by Gerard van Keulen, Aan de Nieuwen Brugh met Privilegie“.

In the interior of the island numerous fjords, mountains, rivers and lakes and also some settlements are depicted. The bishoprics  Skalholt and Holar are highlighted with triform cathedrals: Skalholt bigger and with the inscription „Hoofdstadt van Ysland“ (Capital of Iceland) and Holar („Halar“) smaller with the inscription „Bischoppeleke Stadt en hoogescheel“ (???). Another triform small cathedral is „Haner of Haver“ (probably Hafnarfjördur). Spectacular is the depiction of the famous volcano („den Bergh Hekla“) with the comment: „dees Berg brand niet meer heeft in‘t Iaar 1692 opgehouden“ (this mountain does not burn any more since 1692). Astonishingly many glaciers („hokell“) have names. Some are easy to identify e.g. „Solheima“, others not e.g. „Amcopeltz“.

In the west of Iceland „Goubermans Eylanden of Klippen“ are to be seen which do not exist in reality. North of the Westfjords an area is named „Zee Gronden“, probably a warning of shallow waters. The Arctic Circle is drawn completely wrong.