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The Triangle Trade At The End of the 17th Century

Rare early Dutch sea chart of the Atlantic, issued separately and appearing in a few rare Dutch composite sea atlases and the De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Werelt.

The map bears the same title as Blaeu's West-Indische Paskaert (circa 1621). The chart is done on Mercator's projection, unlike earlier Dutch charts of the Atlantic by Theunis Jacobsz and Johannes Van Loon.  The map includes one significant improvement over these earlier Charts of the Atlantic, an extension further to the east, in order to incorporate both the coast of Africa, Spain and Southern Ireland and provide a better treatment of the Brazilian Coastline, thereby bringing to focus the vast majority of the area covered by the Triangular Trade, the historically transatlantic slave trade which operated between Europe, Africa and the Americas from the 16th to 19th centuries. 

Van Keulen's "Paskaert" is a compelling document of the age of exploration and colonial expansion. Offering a glimpse of the intricate network of maritime trade routes that connected Europe, Africa, and America, it serves as a testament to the complexity of global commerce and the transformative power of European colonialism during this period.

The chart, with its name translating to "chart where the degrees of latitude on either side of the meridian are so enlarged, that they are proportionate to their corresponding degrees of longitude," shows not only the southernmost part of Europe but also a portion of the coasts of Africa and America. Van Keulen's sea chart was a navigational tool, yet it was also a statement about the scope and ambition of the Dutch colonial project.

The Octroy mentioned in the title refers to the exclusive charter or patent granted by the High Mighty Lords, the States General of the United Netherlands, to the Dutch West India Company (or Generale West-Indische Compagnie in Dutch). This Octroy essentially provided the company with a trade monopoly in the West Indies, the area designated as the Western Hemisphere, which included parts of the Americas and the Caribbean. It granted the Dutch West India Company the exclusive right to carry out both trade and colonization efforts in these regions.

This system of exclusive rights was instrumental in the establishment and expansion of what has since become known as the Triangular Trade. This notorious trading system of the 17th and 18th centuries involved the exchange of goods and enslaved Africans between Europe, Africa, and the Americas. Europe sent manufactured goods, including weapons, to Africa in exchange for enslaved people. These enslaved Africans were transported under brutal conditions to the Americas (the infamous Middle Passage), where they were sold for labor in mines, plantations, and households. The ships then returned to Europe with a cargo of raw materials and agricultural products, including sugar, tobacco, and cotton, produced by the enslaved labor force.

While Van Keulen's "Paskaert" was a marvel of cartographic skill and aesthetic design, it also represented the complex and often harsh realities of the globalized world of the 17th century. The Dutch West India Company, backed by the Octroy granted by the States General, used charts like this to navigate and control vast trade networks, which were, tragically, fueled in part by the trade in enslaved Africans. The "Paskaert" serves as a reminder of this era of exploration, trade, and exploitation that shaped the modern world.

States of the Map and Rarity

There are 3 states of the map:

  • 1680 - lacking privilege
  • 1681 circa (with privilege for 15 years added at end of title)
  • 1702 circa (Soute Eylanden and Vlaamse Eylanden added

The map is rare on the market. 

We located examples at the Danish National Library and Huntington Library (Kashnor Collection) (state 2) and Universite Catholique de L'Ouest and Osher Library (state 3).

The map appears as item 2119 in Henry Stevens 1872 catalog, Bibliotheca Geographica & Historica, Or, A Catalogue of a Nine Days Sale of Rare & Valuable Ancient and Modern Books ... Et Cetera Illustrative of Historical Geography & Geographical History (dated 1660?).

Condition Description
Trimmed along top margin, with loss of image.
Burden 516.
Johannes 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.