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An Important Early Sea Chart of the British Colonies in North America

A fine early sea chart of Colonial America, of the area from Cape Hatteras to the Cape Cod region, centered on "New Nederland," published by Gerard Van Kuelen.

The map includes an early copy of the Holme plan of Philadelphia (the first printed plan of Philadelphia) and an early plan of Boston Harbor, reflecting the Dutch interest in trade with its regional neighbors.

The map was originally issued by Hendrik Doncker circa 1688, with the plate later acquired and significantly reworked by Van Kuelen, including a new English Language cartouche and inset map of Boston Harbor. Van Keulen also added many new place names along the coast. In describing the map, Burden notes:

It appears that to incorporate the inset the Delaware River has been 'pushed' in a south-easterly direction, in the meantime influencing the shape of the colony of New Jersey. The Delaware River is dominated by Dutch toponyms, only Philadelphia and Penn-Sylvania bearing witness to the English presence.

The region of New Jersey is still prominently claimed for the Dutch, as is the territory stretching eastwards to Rhode Island. The cartography for much of the coastline is drawn from the charts of Arent Roggeveen published in 1675. This is particularly noticeable from the depictions of Cape Cod, Long Island and the Chesapeake Bay region. Boston is misplaced to the north of the River Charles.

The present example of the map is the second state, which adds Van Keulen's name and adds a plan of Boston Harbor.  The Boston plan is based upon Mount & Page's New Survey of the Harbour of Boston in New England. Because this second state incorporates scientific data from Edmond Halley, it is believed to date from after 1700.  Burden dates the map to 1706, based upon an edition of the map in the collections at Harvard University.


The map is rare on the market.  We note only 2 examples in dealer catalogs in the past 10 years.

Burden II, #644.
Hendrick Doncker Biography

Hendrik Doncker was a prominent bookseller in Amsterdam best known for his sea charts and nautical atlases. He issued his own original charts, which he updated frequently, and also worked with colleagues like Pieter Goos, for example to produce the pilot guide, De Zeespeigel. He died in 1699, after fifty years in business. His plates then passed to Johannes van Keulen.

Gerard Van Keulen Biography

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.