The First Sea Chart of Florida & The Bahamas
Roggeveen's chart of Florida and the Bahamas is the first sea chart to focus on the region and one of great importance, showing the region through which the majority of Spain's treasure ships from the New World sailed.
The map depicts the east coast of Florida from St. Augustine southwards to northern Cuba including the Bahamas. The primary source for this chart is the work of Hessel Gerritsz who published a chart of the West Indies in c.1631, following a voyage to the Americas. Gerritsz's map is extremely rare, surviving in only 3 examples. Roggeveen was also influenced by the manuscript maps of Joan Vingboons. Both Gerritsz and Vingboons were official cartographers for the Dutch East Company and West India Company, where Roggeveen would have had access to their manuscripts. One addition here in the region of present day Miami is Bra de Montang de Moure. Only two of the Matieres, or Keys, are named. Caio de Tabanos, present day Tavernier Key, and Caio Branco, present day Sand Key. A familiar Caio de Biscainhos or Key Biscayne is noted near present day Miami. Many of the islands of the Bahamas are named, some of these names are familiar, some not. Bahama, Bimini, Anguilla and S. Sabvador (San Salvadore) are recognizable.
Arent Roggeveen was a land surveyor, mathematician, poet and teacher of navigation. Born in Delfshaven, he later moved to Middelburg where both the Dutch East and West India Companies were based. He was employed by both companies as a teacher in the art of navigation. He also helped maintain their collections of hydrographic manuscripts and charts, including Spanish portulanos of the West Indies. In the mid 1660s, Roggeveen compiled a series of large scale charts of the North American coast line, West Indies and later, West Africa. His Het Brandende Veen or The Burning Fen represented a landmark in the coastal charting of North America, with a number of regions mapped in larger scale than in any previously printed work. Roggeveen arranged for Pieter Goos, one of the leading engravers and publishers of maritime books in Amsterdam to publish the collection. The completed work was the first Dutch pilot that was focused on select areas of the American coastline. Previously, all printed maps and charts that dealt with this coastline were on a much larger scale.
Roggeveen died in 1679. Goos' widow sold the plates to Jacob Robijn, who reissued the maps with his name added to the title, but otherwise unchanged, in 1680. Both examples of the map are extremely rare. The atlases were undoubtedly published in limited quantity. Working sea charts and pilots from the 17th Century are inherently rare due to the nature of their use aboard ships. The vast majority of them were either destroyed by use or destroyed intentionally when new updated versions were obtained.