A grand edition of van Keulen’s Zee-Atlas

By KEULEN, Gerard van, 1706 

De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde Zee-Atlas ofte Water-Waerld. Vertoonende in zig alle de Zee-Kusten des Aardryks. Bestaande in zeer nette Kaarten, zo platte als wassende Graden: waar in ontdekt zyn alle Baayen, Reeden, Klippen, Droogtens, Dieptens, Anker-plaatzen, en alle Strekkingen en Opdoeningen van Landen: ook haar lengten en Polus hoogten, &c. Dienende tot Opbouwinge en Voortplantinge der Scheepvaart, uit nieuwe Opgevingen van Schippers, Stuurlieden en Liefhebbers der Zeevaart. Te zamen vergaadert en in t ligt gebragt, door Gerard van Keulen, &c.

  • Author: KEULEN, Gerard van
  • Publication place: T’ Amsterdam
  • Publisher: By Gerard van Keulen, Boek-Zee-Kaart-verkoper, en Graad ‑boogmaaker aan de Oost-zyde van de Niewen Brug, in de gekroonde Lootsman
  • Publication date: 1706.
  • Physical description: Two volumes, folio (650 by 400mm), two engraved allegorical frontispieces, title, dedication, double-page title in French, 175 engraved charts, coastal profiles, and plates, many folding, ALL CHARTS IN ORIGINAL FULL-WASH COLOUR, allegorical frontispieces heightened in gold, all charts with manuscript titles in French, Oost Indien’ chart, and West Indische Paskaert’ cropped to upper part of chart, second West Indische Paskaert’ cropped to lower part of chart, some charts with oxidation to the verdigris, a few backed on japan paper, original Dutch speckled calf gilt, roll-tool borders gilt on sides, tool of sphere at corners, large tool of Atlas carrying the world in the centre, spine in conpartments with spheres.
  • Inventory reference: 1161


Johannes van Keulen established himself in Amsterdam in 1678 and, in 1680, he obtained a privilege from the States General of Holland and West Friesland allowing him to print and publish maritime atlases and shipping guides. This privilege, which protected against the illegal copying of printed material, was especially important for the cartographer’s atlases, which were produced with extensive initial costs. Van Keulen named his firm In de Gekroonde Lootsman’ (‘In the Crowned Pilot’), and began collaborating with cartographers Claes Jansz. Vooght and Johannes van Luyken. The firm would go on to become one of the most successful publishing firms in Amsterdam; and produce the largest and finest marine atlases in Holland” (Koeman).

The first publication issued by Johannes van Keulen was his Zee Atlas’, which contained about 40 charts. In the following year the number of charts would increase with the publication of his Sea Pilot the Zee-Fakkel’, and by 1683 a sea atlas of 116 charts could be produced. By 1695 the Zee Atlas’ under the direction of Johannes van Keulen, would reach its apogee with the issuing of an atlas containing 160 charts.

A new impetus to the chartmaking business came when Johannes’ son Gerard took over in 1704. Not only did he increase the number of charts in the Zee-Atlas (185 by 1709) he also published it in a definitive form; by renumbering many of the plates in consecutive order and by dividing the atlas into five parts, to mirror the five books of the Zee Fakkel’.

The current example, issued by Gerard in 1706, contains some 175 charts, coastal profiles, and plates, and is one of the largest sea atlases ever compiled by the van Keulen firm. The contents of the atlas can be seen as an intermediate between that of the Koeman Keu 20B (dated 1695 and containing 160 charts) and Keu 28 (dated 1709 and containing 185 charts), with which the present atlas shares 110 and 135 of the same charts, respectively.

The layout of the atlas is somewhat a work in progress, with Gerard van Keulen opting to use large two-sheet charts to divided the atlas into the five navigational books, rather than their respective allegorical frontispieces, which he would use to great effect in this edition of 1709.

All of the 19 two-sheet maps which Gerard employs in the atlas are rare, however, two are of particular note: the West Indische Paskaert’ (present in the atlas in two examples) and the Oost Idien’. The Paskaert’, was first issued by Willem Blaeu in c.1630 and was of landmark importance as being the first sea chart depicting North America on the Mercator projection” (Burden). Gerard utilizes the chart here as the general chart for both the North American, and the South American and African sections. The Oost Idien’ or chart of the East Indies is a particular rarity. It was first published by Pieter Goos in c.1660, and extends from the Cape of Good Hope to the Japan; Schilder notes that this map contains a complete survey of Dutch expansion in the East Indies and takes into account Tasman’s two voyages of exploration”.

We were only able to trace one other example of a similar size (containing 160 charts) to come up for sale in the last 30 years; the atlas realized £45,200 at Sotheby’s in 1984. 

Image gallery