The New and Unknown World: or Description of America and the Southland


This monumental work by the Dutch writer Arnoldus Montanus (1625?-83) reflects the fascination of 17-th century Europe with the New World. Montanus was a Protestant minister and headmaster of the Latin School in the town of Schoonhoven. He wrote books on church history, theology, the history of the Low Countries, and the peoples and cultures of the Americas and Australia. (The “Southland” in the title of his book refers to the recently-discovered Australia.) Montanus never visited the New World and his work contains numerous errors and fantastic conceptions about the people and animals of the Americas. Nonetheless, it became a standard work in Europe and was widely read for many years. The publisher of the work was the Amsterdam bookseller and engraver Jacob van Meurs, who was active from 1651 to 1680 and specialized in works of history, geography, and travelogues. The book is lavishly illustrated with 125 copper engravings, including 32 folded views, 70 plates, 16 maps, and 7 unusually handsome portraits of famous explorers, each surrounded by baroque framed borders. The book was translated and published in England by the editor and map publisher John Ogilby under the title, America, Being an Accurate Description of the New World (1671).

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

J. Meurs, Amsterdam


Title in Original Language

De Nieuwe en onbekende weereld: of Beschryving van America en't zuid-land

Type of Item

Physical Description

585 pages : illustrations, maps ; 38 centimeters

Last updated: October 19, 2015