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Johannes Van Keulen's General Sea Chart of America -- West Oriented At The Top

Old color example of Johannes Van Keulen's striking sea chart of the East Coast of America, Caribbean and Gulf Coast, one of the most decorative sea charts published in the late 17th Century.

This attractive and important chart is from Van Keulen's great sea pilot De Nieuwe Groote Lichtende Zee-Fakkel ('The New Shining Sea Torch'), first issued in Amsterdam, 1681-4. It is oriented with west at the top, illustrating the approach to North America from the Atlantic. The map follows his earlier chart of 1680, although Carolina has been added, along with 'Charles Towne', and the Albermarle Sound is enlarged.

The Dutch claims to the Northeast are still clearly in evidence, even though the permanent Dutch presence in North America concluded in 1664. In recognition of the English presence in the Northeast, various English town names are noted.

As noted by Philip Burden:

The majority of the cartography is derived from his earlier 1680 chart of the West Indies, here extended to the north to take in Labrador, and rotated to place the west at the top. The only disparities are the naming of CAROLINA and Charles Touwne and a slightly larger Albemarle Sound. Dutch claims in the north-east are still identified, here as far north as present day Maine. No mention is made of New York or New-England, although some of latter's coastal town are identified such as New London, Providence, Pleymouth, Baston, Salem and Dover. French Canada is shown with all the usual nomenclature. The whole is finished with an ornate title cartouche depicting scenes relating to the production of sugar cane.

Johannes Van Keulen (1654-1715) founded what was perhaps the most long-lived dynasty in the history of map publishing, described as "the largest non-governmental hydrographic office in the world." In 1678, Van Keulen established himself in Amsterdam and in 1680 he obtained a patent from the States of Holland and West Friesland permitting him to publish maritime atlases and shipping guides. Van Keulen named his firm 'In de Gekroonde Lootsman' ('In the Crowned Pilot'). Van Keulen employed the cartographer Claes Jansz. Vooght to design his charts. The Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel was issued serially in five volumes from 1681 to 1684. Vooght compiled the maps, with artistic embellishments added by Jan Luyken. The Zee-Fakkel was a great commercial success, and led the Van Keulen firm to assume a leading role in the European sea atlas trade.

Johannes's son, Gerard Van Keulen (1678-1726), continued his work and produced new editions of the various volumes. In 1755, the head of the next generation, Johannes II Van Keulen (1704-1755), published a new edition of the volume with maps of Asian waters. Johannes's great-grandson Gerard Hulst Van Keulen (1733-1801) occupied himself with the last editions of the Zee-Fakkel. The Van Keulun firm operated in various forms until 1885.

The present example is the second state of the map, with the plate number '1' added at the bottom right corner. Van Keulen's chart is considered to be one of the fundamental general sea charts of America and the West Indies.

Condition Description
Old Color, recently refreshed. Archivally re-backed to support some minor oxidation.