Rare separately issued sea chart of the region then controlled by the merchants of the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.), extending from Africa and Saudi Arabia to the known coasts of Australia.
Van Keulen's chart is an updated version of Pieter Goos' sea chart of the same title, which was separately issued by Goos circa 1658. Tony Campbell notes that this is map is of tremendous import, being among the first to incorporate the new discoveries of the Dutch East India Company in Australia and the region. The chart provides a fantastic look at the East Indies, showing the coastline of Australia as established by Abel Tasman in 1644. As noted by Schilder, "this map contains a complete survey of Dutch expansion in the East Indies and takes into account Tasman's two voyages of exploration". This edition is of great interest for the updated information along Australia's West coast. Extensive soundings are added offshore of present-day the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia. Beside this the following text is added where we find present-day Perth: Duinig land boven Lage Ruigte Gelijk Verdronk Boomen en Boschaghe, then drawn from an earlier manuscript by Hessel Gerritsz, but added for the first time to this edition of the map.
The update of the soundings was very important as many Dutch ships were shipwrecked at the West Australian coast. The VOC flagship Batavia (1629), under the command of Commander Francois Pelsaert, was wrecked on the Abrolhos Islands, just 60 kilometers off the coast of Geraldton, Western Australia. The Ridderschap van Holland (1694) was shipwrecked on the west coast, probably on the Abrolhos Islands. The VOC dispatched a fleet under Willem Vlamingh to search for survivors. There were none found.
These charts were published in the Netherlands for use at sea and the Dutch vessels sailing to and from the Indies were equipped with these charts. Being an important mean for navigation they had to be kept up to date using the latest possible information. Being used on board ship they where due to perish easily and the remaining number of copies is therefore very small. Engraved sea chart printed on ply-paper.
The chart includes a curious misspelling of Van Keulen's name as Van Kuelen, an error only recently noted by Schilder in The Van Keulen Carthography, Appendix 5, 211, page 186.
The chart was issued separately and also sometimes included in Van Keulen's his sea-atlases and "made to order" copies of the "Zee Fakkel", which would account for the careless trimming to the upper border. An advertisement of sea atlases, pilot books, charts, etc. sold by Joh. van Keulen, printed in the "Zee-Alas" of 1695 is known and mentions "als meede vier groote Paskaarten op Perkement, die voor desen Pieter Goos totsijn gebruyk gehad heeft, te weten OostIndien Wassende graden".
The map appears very infrequently on the market. A copy of the Goos map on Vellum (which was also trimmed even more than the present example) sold at Sothebys in May 2010 for approximately $350,000 USD (Sale L10401, Lot 67)
The Van Keulens were a family of chartmakers and publishers. The firm, In de Gekroonde Lootsman (In the Crowned Pilot), was founded in 1678 by Johannes van Keulen (1654-1715). Van Keulen originally registered his business as a vendor of books and instruments (specifically cross-staffs). In 1680, however, he gained a privilege from the States of Holland and West Friesland for the publication of pilot guides and sea atlases.
In that year, van Keulen released his Zee-Atlas (Sea Atlas), which secured him a name in the competitive maritime publishing market. In 1681, he published the first volume of Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel (New Shining Sea Torch). This would be the first of an eventual five volumes originally published between 1680 and 1684. A sixth volume was added in 1753. The Zee-Fakel won van Keulen lasting fame. The atlas had charts compiled by Claes Jansz Vooght and artwork from Jan Luyken. It proved immensely popular and was reprinted until 1783. There were translations in French, English, Spanish, and Italian.
The late-seventeenth century was an auspicious time to enter the maritime chart business. Previous industry leaders had either closed shop, died, or retired, leaving space for a new competitor. Van Keulen proceeded to buy up the stock and privileges of several maritime publishing firms; the most notable was the stock of Hendrik Doncker, acquired in 1693.
Johannes’ son, Gerard (1678-1726) took over the business upon his father’s death. Gerard was a skilled engraver and mathematician. His talents were noticed, as in 1706 he was named as Hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company (VOC).
In turn, Gerard’s son Johannes II (1704-1770) came to run the shop. He was also tied to the VOC, and his role as their chartmaker allowed his charts to be considered as quasi-official government documents. It is with access to formerly clandestine VOC geographic knowledge that Johannes the Younger was able to add a sixth volume to the Zee-Fakkel, which covered the East Indies. Johannes also continued to sell instruments, including the recently-invented Hadley’s Quadrant from 1744.
When Johannes II died in 1770, his widow ran the business in his stead, aided by her two sons, Cornelis Buys (1736-1778) and Gerard Hulst (1733-1801). Now a century old, the family business had extended to include an anchor factory. After Cornelis died in 1778, Gerard took on the management of the firm alone. He oversaw the introduction of sextants to their inventory and published the Dutch Nautical Almanac beginning in 1788. Annual editions appeared until 1885. Gerard also served as an original member of the Dutch Commission for Longitude at Sea from 1787.
Gerard’s widow ran the business for nine years after his death, when their son, Johannes Hulst, started to lead the firm in 1810. After his death in 1844, the firm passed out of family hands and into the control of Jacob Swert, a skilled cartographer who had worked for the business for two decades. He passed the work to his son, another Jacob, in 1866. By the mid-nineteenth century, the conversion from sail to steam had diminished the size of the market for charts. Fewer sailors needed fewer maps, charts, and instruments. In 1885, after 207 years in business, In de Gekroonde Lootsman closed its doors and auctioned its stock.