Jodocus Hondius 1563-1612, a native of Flanders, grew up in Ghent, apprenticed as an instrument and globe maker and map engraver. In 1584, to escape the religious troubles sweeping the Low Countries at that time, he fled to London where he spent some years before finally settling in Amsterdam about 1593. While in London period he came into contact with many of the leading scientists and geographers of the day. He engraved many maps and atlases working with Pieter van den Keere, his brother-in-law. His exile in London brought him to international attention, including his selection by John Speed to engrave the plates for the maps in The Theatre of the Empire of Great Britaine in the years between 1605 and 1610.
In 1604 Hondius bought the plates of Mercator’s Atlas which, in spite of its excellence, had not faired successfully against Ortelius’ Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Hondius added about 40 maps to Mercator’s original number and from 1606 published enlarged editions in many languages, still under Mercator’s name but with his own name as publisher. These atlases have become known as the Mercator/Hondius series. The following year the maps were reengraved in miniature form and issued as a pocket Atlas Minor.
After the death of Jodocus Hondius the Elder in 1612, work on the two atlases, folio and miniature was carried on by his widow, Coletta van den Keere and sons, Jodocus II and Henricus (1587-1638) , and eventually in conjunction with Jan Jansson, Henricus’ brother-in-law in Amsterdam.