Studio et Vigilantia
motto of the printer from 1695
Pieter van der Aa (Leiden, 1659 - Leiden, August 1733) was a Dutchpublisher best known for preparing maps and atlases, though he also printed pirated editions of foreign bestsellers and illustrated volumes. He also printed many maps that were often out of print, which he reissued. Some of his most popular maps were of the Africancontinent, detailing locations such as Morocco and Madagascar. Many of his later works were printed for the general public in French and Dutch.
Pieter van der Aa was born the son of a German stonecutter from Holstein, one of three sons who came to run a family printing business. His brother Boudewyn was a printer and his other brother Hildebrand a copper plate engraver.
Pieter van der Aa began his career at Lieden in 1683 as a Latin trade publisher, publishing classical texts pertaining to medicine and science. As he progressed, he began to publish atlases and maps, compiling numerous multi-volume collections of works. His ambition to become Lieden's most famous printer was fulfilled in 1715 with his appointment to head printer for the city and its university. One of Pieter van der Aa's largest compilations relates to the history of Italy and Sicily, an area of immense personal interest. Though he took credit for many of his compilations, several, such as the Dutch collection of travels to the East and West Indies, were admittedly simple improvements to others' works.
The orchid genus Aa is said to be named after him by the botanist Heinrich Gustav Reichenbach because he was the printer for the Dutch botanist Paul Hermann's "Paradisus Batavus". Published posthumously in 1698, this explanation is disputed.