Striking Sea Chart of the West Coast of South America—Heightened in Gold!
Handsome example of Pieter Goos' sea chart of the Pacific coast of Mexico, Central America, and South America. This example is heightened in gold.
This chart appeared in De Zee Atlas ofte Water-Weereld, first published in 1666. Goos' sea atlas was among the most important and commercially successful sea atlases of the seventeenth century. His father, Abraham, was one of the most sought-after Dutch engravers of his time. Pieter continued this tradition of fine, elegant engraving with his Zee Atlas.
The chart stretches from New Spain (Mexico) to Quintero, in Central Chile. It shows the shores of the Viceroyalties of New Spain and Peru. At this time, Chile was part of the latter, although it would later be reshuffled into the Viceroyalty of Río de la Plata.
Spanish power was more de jure than de facto for much territory in this period. For example, Central America—here including Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Veragua, and Tierra Firme—was for the most part outside of Spanish control. Instead, it was a haven for loggers, pirates, runaway and freed people, and Indigenous groups.
The South Seas are practically devoid of islands. Some of the only visible landmasses are St. Felix and St. Ambrosio. These are the Desventuradas, or the Unfortunate Isles. They were first visited by Spaniards in 1574 and there is no evidence of earlier Indigenous American or Polynesian contact. These islands were likely those that John Davis ran into in 1686, giving rise to the myth of Davis Land. Interestingly, the Galapagos had been visited in 1535 and included in Ortelius’ Maris Pacifici (1589), the first map of the Pacific, but they are absent on this chart.
Fine compass roses encourage the viewer to plot a course. Three ships sail the waters. In the lower right corner is an ornate cartouche with three men watching over the title and scale bars.
Pieter Goos (ca. 1616-1675) was a Dutch map and chart maker, whose father, Abraham Goos (approx. 1590-1643), had already published numerous globes, land and sea maps together with Jodocus Hondius and Johannes Janssonius in Antwerp. Pieter gained recognition due to the publication of sea charts. He bought the copperplates of the famous guide book for sailors, De Lichtende Columne ofte Zeespiegel (Amsterdam 1644, 1649, 1650), from Anthonie Jacobsz. Goos published his own editions of this work in various languages, while adding his own maps. In 1666, he published his De Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Wereld, which is considered one of the best sea atlases of its time. Goos' sea charts came to dominate the Dutch market until the 1670s, when the Van Keulen family came to prominence.