Dutch sea atlases

atlas detail (lower) image

Sea charts from around 1400 to the 19th century document the evolution of Europe's knowledge of the world outside its borders. Restricted at first to the coastlines of the Mediterranean, then moving outward to the coasts of northern Europe and Africa, the charts bear witness to an expanding world. The Fisher Library is fortunate to possess two outstanding examples from the golden age of Dutch cartography: a 1666 sea atlas of Hendrick Doncker and the 1686 sea atlas of Jacobus Robijn.

Hendrik Doncker was a publisher and chart seller in Amsterdam who issued his atlases in Dutch, French and English editions. Apart from sea atlases, charts and pilot books, he also published various editions of textbooks on the art of navigation. The Fisher Library possesses an outstanding Doncker sea atlas: De zee-atlas from 1666.

Doncker's maps were the most accurate of those produced in the second half of the 17th century. His charts were original, not merely copies of exisiting maps, and the plates were continually corrected and revised in order to incorporatlas detail (middle) imageate the latest geographical information. When the changes were extensive and the plates could no longer be revised, new plates were engraved and obsolete charts were replaced by the newer versions. The Fisher Library copy of the 1666 edition has 32 charts dated between 1658 and 1666.

Jacobus Robjin was a map illuminator and chart seller. The first edition of his sea atlas in 1683 consisted of 19 charts, all bearing his name, with a world map by Nicolaes Visscher. Robijn acquired the charts of Pieter Goos following his death, and most editions of the sea atlas dated 1683 or later contain a mixture of charts by Robijn and by Goos. The Fisher Library copy of Zee, zea - atlas - aquatique, del mar consists of the Robijn title page dated 1683, preliminary matter take from Goos's sea atlas of 1666, 40 charts most of which are by Goos and are dated between 1666 and 1686, and a world map by Goos.