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An Exceptional Original Color Example

Fine old color example of the second state of Nicholas Visscher's 2-sheet map, first published in about 1696.

Stretching from Newfoundland and the Grand Banks and sweeping south the Carolinas and the mythical Lake Apalache in Spanish Florida, Visscher's map is one of the largest Dutch atlas maps of the northeastern part of North America published prior to 1700.  While undated, Burden dates the map to circa 1696, based upon cartographic details, the Visscher firm's publishing history and his exhaustive review of atlases published by the Visscher publishing firm.

The map is a true original work, not following the work of any one prior mapmaker.  Visscher's map is the first Dutch map of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions to improve upon and move past the Jansson-Visscher prototype, which had dominated the mapping of the northeast for 40 years.  Long Island is dramatically improved, for example and the map benefits greatly from its English sources.

Present on the map is the Eastham Cut, the strait bisecting Cape Cod that began to appear on English charts of the late 17th century. Notable also is the remarkable miniaturization of its engraving of place names.  

Burden notes that the maker clearly had greater access to English and Dutch sources, lauding its accuracy in the St. Lawrence region and along the Canadian Coastline. The treatment of Cape Cod and the Boston area are a bit distorted, but otherwise the map is quite exceptional.

One element of the map that should not be overlooked is the treatment of Lake Champlain and Lake George.  The model differs greatly from earlier maps by Nolin and Coronelli, and seems to improve on Morden & Berry's 1676 Map of New England  (Lake Irocoise) and Richard Daniel's 1679 Map of ye British Empire . . . (Lac Irocoise), which in turn was drawn from the Jansson-Visscher model.

In describing Visscher's map, the Maryland Historical Society Huntingfield Map Collection catalog description states:

This beautiful map . . . is probably the most detailed delineation of the Coastline from the Carolinas to Labrador drawn in the 17th Century. . . . The Cartography of the Atlantic Seacoast is exceptional for the period, but the representation of the interior is almost entirely conjectural. The Del-Mar-Va peninsula is shown in a distinctive shape, with the portion south of Delaware Bay too wide and curving to the east. The map is important to a Maryland-Chesapeake collection primarily because it was later copied by Johann Baptiste Homann in the Maryland-Delmarva Peninsula area . . .

The map is known in 4 editions:

  • 1696 - Lacking mountains and trees
  • 1696 - Mountains and trees added
  • 1717 -  Peter Schenk's name added at the bottom of one sheet.
  • 1729 -  Cape Breton re-engraved and a plan of Louisbourg added.
Condition Description
Two sheets, unjoined. Original Color.
Burden 731; McCorkle 689.8; Kershaw I:321, plate 207
Peter Schenk Biography

Peter Schenk the Elder (1660-1711) moved to Amsterdam in 1675 and began to learn the art of mezzotint. In 1694 he bought some of the copperplate stock of the mapmaker Johannes Janssonius, which allowed him to specialize in the engraving and printing of maps and prints. He split his time between his Amsterdam shop and Leipzig and also sold a considerable volume of materials to London.

Peter Schenk the Elder had three sons. Peter the Younger carried on his father’s business in Leipzig while the other two, Leonard and Jan, worked in Amsterdam. Leonard engraved several maps and also carried on his father’s relationship with engraving plates for the Amsterdam edition of the Histoire de l'Académie Royale des Sciences.