Early Appearances of Manhattan Island, Nantucket, Martha's Vineyard, Block Island.
Important early Sea Chart of the region around New York City, Long Island and the Connecticut and southern Massachusetts coastlines, first published by Johannes Van Keulen in 1684 and drawn by Claes Janz Vooght for Van Keulen's Zee-Fakkel.
The lower map provides fine coastal details from New York Harbor, Manhattan Island and the curiously short thick rendition of Long Island in the west to Nantucket (Natoket), Martha's Vineyard (Marten Wynard's Island, Block Island (called Adrian Bloks Eyl) and a very strange depiction of the southern part of Cape Cod and Buzzard's Bay.
Van Keulen's map is of great note for several reasons. It is the second earliest map of the region, after the extremely rare chart of the same region published by Arent Rogeveen in 1675. Perhaps most notably, the maps of the "Noord" River (Hudson River) and Versche River (Connecticut River) make this the earliest printed map of a North American River.
The map is based on unknown original Dutch surveys made just before they surrendered New Netherlands to the English in 1664. As such, it preserves many of the Dutch names then in use. As noted by Stokes,
The map is important because of the inclusion of many names not occurring on other maps, as well as for its large scale inset map of the Hudson River, which is believed to be the first detailed engraved map of that river.
[This map] arguably represents the apogee of Dutch knowledge of the region, many toponyms appearing for the first time. . . . The sources of the map are unknown. Although the region is named both New Netherlands and New York the city itself is unnamed. Nearby are a great number of placenames including some recognizable ones such as Konynen Eyl., Breukelen and further east on Long Island Heemstede, Ooster Bay and Oost Hampton . . .
The inset in the top third is the map's main claim to fame. It is the first engraved map devoted to the Hudson River and it, too, introduces many new placenames. On the west side above Manhattan is Taphaan and further upriver is Kats Kil, Middelburgh now Hudson, and 't Greyn Bosch near Albany. Tucked in with it is a smaller inset map of the lower reaches of the Connecticut River called the Versche , or fresh, River.
Burden lists four states:
- State 1. 1684. Without page numbers and a simple boxed title cartouche.
- State 2. 1687. With page number "20"engraved lower left corner.
- State 3. c.1692? The map number now appears in the lower right corner also, above the scale.
- State 4. 1702? The title is now bordered by drapes, a ship is added south of Long Island and the scale of miles is now within a ruled border.
It is known that editions of the Zee-Fakkel were issued until very late in the 18th Century, with editions issued as late as the Revolutionary War period.
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.