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Sailing the East Indies—Heightened in Gold!

Striking example of Pieter Goos' sea chart of Australia, Southeast Asia, China, Japan, Korea, and India. First published in Goos' Zee Atlas, this example is heightened with gold.

The chart is one of two which encompass the sea routes from Southern Africa to the Far East, as typically followed by ships of the Dutch East India Company in this period. This east-oriented chart shows the regions from Cape Comorin to Japan.

New Holland (Australia) extends northward nearly to New Guinea, suggesting they are one large landmass. The discoveries made by Tasman in Northern Australia in during the course of his second voyage (1644) are included, as are other early seventeenth-century Dutch encounters with western and southern Australia.

New Guinea includes toponyms bestowed by Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire. In an attempt to undermine the monopoly of the Dutch East India Company (VOC), Isaac Le Maire, Jacob’s father, planned an attempt to find another entrance to the Pacific from the Atlantic. Schouten and the younger Le Maire sailed in 1615. They sailed between Tierra del Fuego and an island they called Staten Land, entering the Pacific around Cape Horn and crossing the South Seas. When entering the East Indies they coasted New Guinea, leaving the names seen here.

A decorative cartouche in the lower left corner is adorned with putti. At sea, three Dutch ships sail eastward.

Goos' map served as a prototype, both in its detail and orientation for subsequent Dutch charts of the late-seventeenth and early-eighteenth centuries. The chart also served to propagate knowledge of Tasman's second voyage more widely.

Early Dutch 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 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. It is marked here with Dirck Hertochs Ree and t’Landt de Eendracht ontdeckt A° 1616. 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.

Also included is I. de Edels Landt ontdeckt A° 1619. Jacob d’Edel, in the Amsterdam, along with Frederik de Houtman in the Dordrecht came within sight of the western coast in 1619. The Houtmans Abrolhos. are an archipelago named for the navigator who sighted them, or at least it was Houtman who reported the islands to the VOC. The islands became infamous after the Batavia shipwrecked there in 1627. The mutiny and massacre that became Batavia’s fate fascinated all of Europe, but also flagged the islands as treacherous for ships, which is why they deserve such attention on charts. Also included is the shoal sighted by and named for the Tortelduyf in 1624.

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

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. This map does not show the findings of this expedition.

Tasman’s second voyage 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.

Condition Description
Narrow margins, as issued. Heighted in Gold.
Tooley, 670; Suarez, 209; Schilder, 204; Clancy, 6.14; Graham Seal, The Savage Shore: Extraordinary stories of survival and tragedy from the early voyages of discovery (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2015). KAP
Pieter Goos Biography

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.