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Striking World Map with Early Depictions of New Zealand and Tasmania

Fine, rare double-hemisphere map of the world, one of the earlier maps to depict Abel Tasman's voyage to Tasmania and New Zealand.

The continents appear massive, especially North America, which extends far to the north and includes Greenland. A narrow strait, the Strait of Anian, separates it from Asia. The legendary land of Quivira Regnum is nearby and, interestingly, is repeated farther down the coast. The second Quivira is part of the California coast, which is shown as a peninsula. In South America is the fabled Lake Parime.

There is no mysterious Terra Australis in either hemisphere. Instead, in the west, is a large text block explaining significant voyages through the Strait of Magellan. The final voyage mentioned, that of Jacob Le Maire and Cornelis Schouten (1615-1617), refers to the first known voyage to round Cape Horn. Their ship’s track is shown skirting Tierra del Fuego and crossing the Pacific.

In the eastern hemisphere, the southernmost latitudes are covered with a double-hemisphere celestial map showing the stars as seen in the northern and southern skies.

Some of the most significant details on this map are the coast of Tasmania, here Avan Diemen Landt, and New Zealand, here Zelandia nova. These are findings of the first voyage of Abel Tasman in 1642-3. However, there are also other Dutch voyages mentioned in the toponyms on the western and southern coasts of New Holland, which here is Landt Van de Eendracht.

Outside the hemispheres, the map includes two models of the solar system. Copernicus’ heliocentric system is at the top, with a Ptolemaic geocentric model at the bottom.

The corners are decorated with the four continents trope. Africa, on a crocodile, is surrounded by other exotic animals. America, on an armadillo, is near Indigenous peoples, including those keeping a fire in their canoe. Asia swings a thurible and sits on a camel. Missionaries and traders are entering her lands. Europe sits serenely while peoples of the world bring her riches. The trope is a reflection of assumed European superiority that was common amongst Europeans at the time.   

The map is related to a world map featured in a bible by Nicolas Visscher (1657). This similar map is slightly bigger and adds New Zealand. It is only rarely seen on the marker.

Tasman’s voyages and the Dutch encounter with Australia

This map’s innovation is an early depiction of Tasman’s first voyage. However, it also chronicles earlier encounters with Australia. Whereas the Portuguese were the first Europeans to tap the lucrative resources of the East Indies, other European powers quickly joined the race. The Dutch East India Company (VOC), founded in 1602, was based in Amsterdam with a local headquarters in Batavia (Jakarta).

Dutch ships roved the waters of the Indian Ocean. A few crossed the sea at southern latitudes, taking advantage of the winds of the roaring forties, which put them on a collision course with the continent of Australia, then still unknown to Europeans. These ships were following the Brouwer Route to Jakarta, so-called because it was explored in 1611 by Hendrick Brouwer. Less than five years later, it was named the prescribed route from the Cape of Good Hope to Java and following the route was compulsory for all VOC ships, unless they were destined directly for China and Ceylon, rather than Batavia.

Ships were supposed to turn north when they sighted Amsterdam Island or St. Paul Island. However, the methods for calculating longitude in the seventeenth century were imprecise and some ships continued east, eventually running afoul of the Australian coast. The first of these to contact West Australia was the Eendracht in 1616, which was blown off course en route to the East Indies. It was commanded by Dirk Hartog and Hartog’s landing was the first recorded European landing on the western coast of Australia. All of Australia is here labelled with the ship’s name; the voyage is also marked here with Dirck Herto dis Ree. The crew commemorated their discovery by erecting a post with a pewter dish inscribed with their ship’s information—the earliest physical record that historians have of any European landing in Australia.

Other voyages also sighted or landed in Western Australia in the 1620s. This map references that of Gerrit Fredericsz De Wit in 1628 (Wits Landt), of the Leeuwin in 1622 (Leeuwins Landt), and of Pieter Nuyts, who commanded the Gulden Zeepaert along the southern coast in 1627 (P. Nuyts Landt).

By the 1640s, the officials of the VOC were eager to know the extent of the south lands and if they included any useful resources or willing trading partners. They appointed Abel Tasman to pursue these questions. Tasman's 1642-43 voyage was the first to circumnavigate the whole of the Australasia region, thus proving it was a separate entity unconnected from a mythical, and massive, southern continent. He surveyed the south coast of Tasmania, which he called Van Diemens Land after the VOC governor of Batavia, and the western coast of New Zealand, as well as the Tonga and Fiji Archipelagos. While important for geography, his voyage was nevertheless a disappointment to the VOC, as it netted no new commercial opportunities.

His second voyage, not shown on this map, proved even less successful. He was supposed to find a passage south of New Guinea to the east coast of Australia, but he missed the strait and instead thought it a bay. He did, however, more fully chart Australia’s northern coastline, which had only been sporadically encountered to that point. Previously, information for the north coast, especially for portions of the coasts in what it today Queensland, Australia, come from the voyage of the Dutch vessel Duyfken in 1605-06. Under the command of Willem Janszoon, the Duyfken explored the eastern shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria, just below the Cape York Peninsula, a venture which was famously the first recorded European contact with Australia.

From hypothesis to myth: the Strait of Anian and Quivira

The map is full of what we now call myths but which were at the time were viable geographic hypotheses. Anian derives from Ania, a Chinese province on a large gulf mentioned in Marco Polo’s travels (ch. 5, book 3). The gulf Polo described was actually the Gulf of Tonkin, but the province’s description was transposed from Vietnam to the northwest coast of North America. The first map to do so was Giacomo Gastaldi’s world map of 1562, followed by Zaltieri and Mercator in 1567. The Strait then became shorthand for a passage to China, i.e. a Northwest Passage. It appeared on maps until the mid-eighteenth century.

Quivira, nearby, refers to the Seven Cities of Gold sought by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541. In 1539, Coronado wandered over what today is Arizona and New Mexico, eventually heading to what is now Kansas to find the supposedly rich city of Quivira. Although he never found the cities or the gold, the name stuck on maps of southwest North America, wandering from east to west.

Certain place names are based on first hand reports, however dubious, but are still difficult to place accurately. For example, the islands Las dos Hermanas, the two sisters, is on this map far to the west of the southern coast of North America. These islands, or rocks, were discovered by Bernardo de la Torre, who was attempting to cross the Pacific eastward from the Philippines in 1543. Torre had been part of a flotilla commanded by Ruy Lopez de Villalobos sent to colonize the Philippines. Although the colonization attempt was not immediately successful, Villalobos did give the archipelago its present name, after Philip II of Spain.

Lake Parime

One of the defining features of this and many maps of South America is a massive lake in the north, near Guiana. This is Lake Parime, a feature long-connected to the El Dorado myth. Rumors of a golden city in the New World were first tied to an initiation ceremony for a new chief of the Chibcha (Muisca) people. Bejewelled and covered in gold dust, the chief was supposedly ritually cleansed in sacred Lake Guatavita while more precious stones and metals were thrown into the water. El Dorado, as described by sixteenth and seventeenth-century chroniclers like Oviedo, Castellanos, and Freyle, was a reference to this “golden man.”

Quickly, the golden man was spun into stories of a golden city, which was supposed to perch on the shores of a vast lake. The precise location of both lake and city varied, however. Some searched in the Andes, others the interior. Gonzalo Pizarro set out east of the Incan Empire to find the city and instead lost nearly all of his 4,000 mean. One of his officers, Orellana, was ordered to continue the search and he eventually reached the Atlantic via the Amazon, the first European to do so.

Still others thought the lake and rich city must be near the Orinoco River. Expeditions in this area reached the ears of Sir Walter Raleigh, who led an expedition to Guiana in 1595. While his search failed, Raleigh sent another man, Lawrence Keymis, the next year. Keymis brought back word that a rich city, Manoa, did exist and that it was located on the shores of a Lake Parime. Raleigh published the information in his voyage account, thus popularizing Lake Parime as a geographic feature.

The lake appeared on maps from 1596 until the eighteenth century. The first was Jodocus Hondius’ Nieuwe Caerte van het Wonderbaer ende Goudrycke Landt Guiana. The lake is usually shown as a rectangular body of water on or near the Orinoco River as it approaches the equator. This quadrilateral of a lake is based on the interpretation of the body of water by Hessel Gerritsz in his 1625 Guiana sive Provinciae.  While fewer and fewer maps featured the lake as the eighteenth-century wore on, the story was not disproven until the travels of Alexander von Humboldt in South America (1799-1804).

Condition Description
Restoration to left and right sides, extending about 1 inch into the printed image on each side of the map.
Edward Brooke Hitchings, The Phantom Atlas: The Greatest Myths, Lies and Blunders on Maps (London: Simon & Schuster, 2016); Graham Seal, The Savage Shore: Extraordinary stories of survival and tragedy from the early voyages of discovery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015); Shirley, 401, 414. KAP
Cornelis II Danckerts Biography

The Danckerts were a family of Dutch engravers and geographers who produced geographic materials, including a series of original atlases. Initially, Justus I Danckerts (1635-1701) was a book and print publisher based in Amsterdam. His great-uncle, Cornelis Danckerts de Rij, (1561-1634) was a surveyor who produced a Kaert-boeck showing various views of Amsterdam. His brother, Dancker Danckerts (1634-1666), was a skilled engraver who produced several maps. Justus I was most likely influenced by both their work when he followed his father, Cornelis I Danckerts (1603-1656), into the publishing business.

In the early 1680s, Justus decided to embark upon a new project, an atlas with all the maps made in house. Such a project was feasible because two of his sons with his wife, Elisabeth Vorsterman, Theodorus I (ca. 1663-ca. 1720) and Cornelis II (1664-1717) had recently come of age and were trained in engraving and etching. Justus’ decision was most likely influenced by his surroundings; Amsterdam was the center of map publishing in the seventeenth century and in the 1680s several local publishers sought to join the atlas market then dominated by the Blaeu and the Hondius-Janssonius atlases.

Together, the brothers created their first maps in the mid-1680s. In 1684, the family received a 15-year privilege to protect their maps and they were then publishing both folios sized maps, the basis of an atlas, and wall maps for sale. Their first atlases contained around 20 original maps and 4-5 maps by other cartographers like Visscher and De Wit. The first known atlas to contain only Danckert maps was a 26-sheet volume published in 1690. As a guide, the Danckerts turned to similar atlases by De Wit, but by 1690 they clearly had the knowledge and capacity to produce their own original work.

After the first 26-sheet atlas, the Danckerts released a 37-sheet (1692-4), a 50-sheet (1694-6), and a 60-sheet (1698-1700) atlas. Several of the maps added to the atlases in the 1690s reflect the theater of the Great Alliance War (1688-1697). Other political events also influenced the contents of the atlases. For example, the English and Irish sheet maps were altered in 1688-9 and 1689-91 respectively, just after the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

In 1692, Justus II (?-1692), a third son of Justus I, died. A series of maps bearing a distinct style which abruptly stopped at this time have been attributed to him. A family member assumed to be another son of Justus I, Eduard (?-after 1721) came of age around the same time. Analysis of engraving style suggests that Eduard was heavily involved in the engraving process, working alongside Theodorus I and with another relation, also presumed to be a younger son of Justus I, Johannes (?-1712), thereafter.

Justus I drew up his will in 1696 and most likely retired from daily management of the shop at this time, although he lived until 1701. The aforementioned Johannes, who had a distinct engraving style, began contributing to the map engraving in 1700, although most of the maps he worked on are published under the name of another brother. The privilege had expired in 1699 and its renewal in the same year, before the death of Justus I, could explain why his sons continued to publish in his name after his death. Using the well-known name of Justus could protect the younger sons whose own reputation was not yet established.  

In the new century, many of the maps were reworked or completely redone, as was the case with the world map and those of the continents. New maps were added to reflect the new areas of fighting in the War of the Spanish Succession, including new depictions of Italian states, the southern Netherlands, and the German provinces. In 1706, Albert Schut joined the business as an engraver and etcher and his name appears on maps from then onward. Between 1700 and 1712, the number of atlas maps increased to 75 and then 100 sheets. It seems Cornelis II was the main voice in atlas contents during this time, while Theodorus I’s role is unclear.

Johannes died in 1712, radically changing the business’ daily routine. Johannes had not only been an engraver, but also the firm’s representation to the Frankfurt Book Fair, the largest book fair in Europe at that time. As the German market was the main source of income for the Danckerts, his death was a heavy blow.

Over the next two decades, the pace of new map production slowed drastically. Only two known maps made during this period are known today: a third world map, engraved by Jacob Folkema, and a Hispania map published with Cornelis II’s name. Neither of these featured in the atlases. After 1717, when his father Cornelis II died, a few maps were reworked by Theodorus II and the contents of the atlases were altered slightly to include those printed from unfinished plates.

By 1726, Theodorus II was in debt. He gave much of his stock to a creditor, T. Rijswick, just before he died in 1727. The stock was sold at auction by Rijswick and other publishers, including the Ottens and Van Keulen, bought plates from the atlas.

Lack of biographical data is a problem for all the Danckerts, especially the younger brothers. Justus I was born in Amsterdam, where he also began his business. All the sons were born and presumably died there. Justus II’s death date is all that has survived of him in the records, and all that is known of Eduard is that in 1721 he served as uncle and guardian to Theodorus II (ca. 1701-1727), the son of Cornelis II. After that nothing is known of him. Theodorus I most likely died between 1718 and 1721. He had a son, Gerit (ca. 1708-after 1731), but the lad does seem to have become a map engraver. With the death of Theodorus II, therefore, there were no more Danckerts to carry on the business even if Theodorus II had avoided debt.

Although not as long-lived as some of the other family firms, for the decades surrounding the turn of the seventeenth-century the Danckert family produced well-respected and widely distributed wall maps and atlases. They joined the atlas trade at a time when atlases were increasing in popularity and the expansion in the number of sheets included in their atlases indicate both their popularity and the skill of the engraving brothers.