The First Printing of Abel Tasman's Manuscript Map of Australia & New Zealand
Rare 1860 printing of Abel Tasman's manuscript map of Australia and New Zealand, published by the famed Dutch Van Keulen sea chart publishing family .
Map of the travels of Abel Tasman in 1642 and 1644, showing Australia joined to Tasmania and New Guinea by a hypothetical south and east coast. Depth shown by soundings. Fine depiction of this important early Dutch map of Australia and New Zealand, commonly attributed to Abel Tasman but drawn originally from many sources by the Dutch East India Company and inspired by Tasman's 1642 discoveries. '
Under orders issued by Governor General van Dieman, Abel Tasman set out in 1642 to discover new lands in the southern latitudes. He first discovered Tamania (which he named Van Dieman's Land) in November 1642, on his first voyage, later discovering New Zealand as well as the Fiji Islands. In February 1644, he headed another exploratory mission as directed by the Dutch East India Company, sailing to the south coast of New Guinea to chart any coastline sited of the 'Southland'. But on their return in August 1644, no strait had been discovered south of New Guinea and no sightings of the eastern coast of Australia were reported. Nevertheless, the Dutch East India Company, drawing on Tasman's recent observations and those of previous Dutch explorers, had formed a reasonable estimation of the shape of this southern continent. Naming it 'Compagnis Niew Nederland' or the Company's New Holland, they drew up this composite map (referred to now as the Tasman Composite Chart) featuring a sweeping hypothetical eastern coastline which is nevertheless fairly realistic. The northeast tip of Australia is the greatest discrepancy projecting as far north as New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago and adjoined with New Guinea.
The map illustrated here was first printed in 1859 in an uncolored edition (see National Library of Australia Copy) and the following year in full color, as seen here. This edition is very rare, with only 2 locations in Dutch institutions and 3 in New Zealand Institutions, plus the 1859 example in the National Library of Australia. No examples noted in American institutions.
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.