Hondius and Hondius-Janssonius Family

Hondius - Janssonius Family

Jodocus Hondius Sr. (1563-1612)

Jodocus Hondius, sometimes called “the Elder,” was a Flemish cartographer and publisher. Born in 1563 in Wakken, he grew up in Ghent, located in the Southern Provinces, where he made a name for himself as an engraver, instrument maker, and globe maker. However, in 1584, after the capture of Ghent by the Spanish as part of the Eighty Years’ War, Hondius fled to London along with many other Protestants. It was here that he met several other notable cartographers and prominent English explorers. In 1593, Hondius returned to the Low Countries and established himself in Amsterdam, creating the Hondius publishing house. Working with Cornelius Claesz., the two men acquired the copper plates from Mercator’s Atlas from Mercator’s grandson. Hondius immediately set to work reproducing and expanding Mercator’s Atlas. Adding 36 new maps, many of which he himself had authored, Hondius’s Mercator Atlas was a success, selling out after only one year. Although Jodocus Hondius Sr. listed Mercator as the author and himself only as the publisher, the new series would come to be known as the Mercator-Hondius Atlas, and it established Jodocus Hondius Sr. as a famous publisher. Jodocus Hondius Sr. died on February 12, 1612, passing his publishing house to his sons.

Atlas Maior of 1665 (extract)

The frontispiece of the Mercator-Hondius Atlas. Gerhard Mercator sits on the left and Jodocus Hondius Sr. is on the right. The Hondius family's publishing mark, "The Watching Dog," can be seen above the two men.

Blaeu, Joan, and Willem Janszoon Blaeu. Atlas Maior of 1665. Kon: Taschen, 2005. p.37.


Jodocus Hondius Jr. (1595-1629)

Jodocus Hondius Sr.’s death in 1612 left his widow, Colletta Hondius (neé van den Keere), with seven underage children and a publishing house to run. The family business was initially continued by Hondius’s widow and then eventually by his two sons, Jodocus Hondius Jr. and Henricus Hondius. Following in his father’s footsteps, Jodocus Hondius, Jr. began to publish under his own name in 1612, before opening his own publishing house in 1621 in Dam Square. Even after going their separate ways, the brothers jointly owned the copper plates for their father’s globe, which they continued to publish together until after 1627. Unfortunately, little is known about the life and career of Jodocus Hondius Jr. However, in 1629 he set out to publish his own atlas, featuring maps that were not included in the Mercator-Hondius Atlas. This new atlas was in direct competition with his father’s famed work, which was still being published by Henricus Hondius’s publishing house. Some theorize that Hondius Jr. planned to take the new atlas to the Frankfurt book fair, but due to his untimely death in 1629 this was not possible. Instead, approximately 40 copper plates from the new atlas were sold to the family’s main competitor, Willem Jansz. Blaeu.

Atlas Maior of 1665 (extract)

The Hondius family's symbol and publishing mark, "The Watching Dog." It can be found on the frontispiece of many of the Hondius atlases, including the famed Mercator-Hondius Atlas.

Blaeu, Joan, and Willem Janszoon Blaeu. Atlas Maior of 1665. Koln: Taschen, 2005. p. 40.


Henricus Hondius (1597-1651)

Henricus Hondius, the second son of Jodocus Hondius Sr., was an engraver, cartographer, and publisher in his own right. After coming of age, Henricus Hondius initially worked with his older brother, Jodocus, and brother-in-law, Johannes Janssonius, to carry on his father’s business. The two brothers continued to publish the famed Mercator-Hondius Atlas under the Elder Hondius’ name until 1619, after which point it bore Henricus Hondius’s name solely. While Jodocus Jr. and Henricus continued to publish together right up until the elder brother’s death, each also began publishing independently under their respective names. For reasons unknown, by the 1620’s the Hondius brothers had largely parted ways. Jodocus Jr. and Henricus each established their own shop on Dam Square and due to the location and nature of their work, the shops were in direct competition with each other. After Jodocus’s unexpected death in 1629, Henricus was angered by the sale of his brother’s printing plates to Henricus’s main competitor, Willem Blaeu. In response, he commissioned the engravers, Salomon Rogiers and Evert Hamsersvelt, to copy the sold plates. Upon the death of his mother in 1629, Henricus Hondius moved back into the paternal home on the Kalverstraat and carried on publishing with Johannes Janssonius. Inexplicably Hondius left the atlas publishing business in the early 1640’s. Henricus Hondius died in 1651, leaving the copper plates and the continued publication of the Mercator-Hondius Atlas to Johannes Janssonius.

Atlas Maior of 1665 (Extract)

The frontispiece of the Henricus Hondius Atlas from 1633.

Blaeu, Joan, and Willem Janszoon Blaeu. Atlas Maior of 1665. Koln: Taschen, 2005. p.52.


Johannes Janssonius (1588-1664)

Johannes Janssonius was born in 1588, the son of a publisher and bookseller. In 1612 he married Elisabeth Hondius, daughter of Jodocus Hondius Sr., and joined the family’s publishing business. By 1616 he was producing maps under his own name, and by 1623 he owned a bookstore in Frankfurt. In 1618, Janssonius opened his own shop on the Damrak, right next door  to Willem Blaeu, and the already existing rivalry between the two men worsened, establishing a feud between their families that would last into the next century. Blaeu’s 1630 entre into atlas publication prompted Janssonius to expand his own Atlas Maior. Even with the Hondius familial ties, it was not until the 1630’s that he struck up a partnership with his brother-in-law, Henricus Hondius. This pairing proved fruitful, and over the next several years Johannes Janssonius worked to enlarge the Hondius Atlas, eventually renaming it Atlas Novus in 1638 and Atlas Maior in 1660. After his death in 1664, the business was passed to his son-in-law, Johannes van Waesbergen.

Atlas Maior of 1665 (extract)

Etching of Gerhard Mercator (center), Honius Sr. (2nd from left), and Johannes Janssonius (left).

Blaeu, Joan, and Willem Janszoon Blaeu. Atlas Maior of 1665. Koln: Taschen, 2005. p. 51.


The Blaeu Family