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Theodore De Bry's Edition of The Most Important Map of the Straits of Malacca and Vicinity published in the 16th Century

Fine example in original hand-color of Willem Lodewijcksz's suppressed map of the region centered on the Straits of Malacca, from Part III of Theodor De Bry's Petits Voyages. First published in 1598, this map was preceded only by the original Claesz edition of the map, which is known in only a handful of copies.

Lodewijcksz was a participant in Cornelis de Houtman's voyage to Southeast Asia (1595-97), the first major Dutch Voyage to the East Indies. The voyage passed through the Sunda Strait, between Sumatra and Java, relying upon the sailing directions set forth in Linschoten's Reysgheschft. The voyage established commercial relations with the pepper port in Banten in northwest Java, in the same area where the Dutch would later establish the Colony of Batavia.

Lodewijcksz's log book was delivered to Cornelis Claesz, who published the Historie van Indien, in April 1598. The book contained illustrations of the Sunda Strait, Bali, and Java, as well as plans of the town and port of Banten, and a map of Bali. The book was intended to include a map of the southern part of Malaya and part of the Indonesian Islands. However, as noted in Chapter 19 of the book:

Here follows the chart of Java. But there is no chart. There is the accepted opinion that this mentioned chart was Lodewijcksz's chart. When the merchant saw this chart, the first printed one from this area in such detail, they have forbidden to insert this chart in the log.

The forbidden map was published later in 1598 as a separate map, including the initials G.M.A.L. in the lower-left title cartouche (Guilelmus M.A. Lodewijcksz). In the same year, De Bry re-engraved the map, utilizing it to illustrate his account of Linschoten's travels. The following year, De Bry published Lodewijcksz's account as Par III of the Petits Voyages. As noted by Suarez:

De Bry's rendering of the Lodewijcksz map is typical of his beautiful engraving and aesthetic sense. One flaw crept into the copying process, however: de Bry's latitude markings err by one degree compared to the original. Lodewijcksz's log records that the north coast of Bali lies at 8.5" south latitude, which is very close to the correct figure of 8". The Claesz / Van Doetechum original follows this meticulously, but de Bry's markings are misaligned, mistakenly placing the island's north coast at a latitude of 7" south.

Larger scale than either the Plancius ("Spice Map") or Linschoten (China and Southeast Asia), the Lodewijcksz map focuses exclusively on southern Malaya, and Borneo, Sumatra, Java, and the islands east of Java through to Sumbawa -- the region specifically reconnoitered by de Houtman. This map records unprecedented detail along western and northern Java, and a plethora of small islands in the Sunda Strait itself and on the Indian Ocean threshold to it. Entering the region via the waters between Sumatra and Java rather than by way of the Malacca and Singapore, the crew reported so many islands on the western side of the Sunda Strait that they had difficulty finding the channel.


The original Lodewijcksz map is virtually unobtainable, with only 12 known surviving examples in institutional collection, and none in Southeast Asian institutional collections.

This later edition, by De Bry, is also quite scarce on the market.

Condition Description
Rare example of original hand-color. Bottom margin trimmed close to neatline. Minor crack in the verdigris coloring on "Iauva Insula". Very small thin spots in the paper in three places. Withal, VG+.
Schilder, Gunter, Monumenta Cartographica Neerlandica VII, pages 265-269; Schilder and Marco van Egmond, "Maritime Cartography in the Low Countries during the Renaissance", History of Cartography, Volume 3, pages 1410-1411. Suarez, T. (SE Asia) pp.181-182, fig. 95. TMC 9 (Garratt) P4.
Theodor De Bry Biography

Theodor de Bry (1528-1598) was a prominent Flemish engraver and publisher best known for his engravings of the New World. Born in Liege, de Bry hailed from the portion of Flanders then controlled by Spain. The de Brys were a family of jewelers and engravers, and young Theodor was trained in those artisanal trades.

As a Lutheran, however, his life and livelihood were threatened when the Spanish Inquisition cracked down on non-Catholics. De Bry was banished and his goods seized in 1570. He fled to Strasbourg, where he studied under the Huguenot engraver Etienne Delaune. He also traveled to Antwerp, London, and Frankfurt, where he settled with his family.

In 1590, de Bry began to publish his Les Grands Voyages, which would eventually stretch to thirty volumes released by de Bry and his two sons. The volumes contained not only important engraved images of the New World, the first many had seen of the geographic novelties, but also several important maps. He also published a collection focused on India Orientalis. Les Grands Voyages was published in German, Latin, French, and English, extending de Bry’s fame and his view of the New World.