Although Justus Danckerts I was the powerhouse behind a dynasty of Dutch engravers and publishers based in Amsterdam, the first known member of the family is Cornelis Danckerts (1536–1595). It is his grandson, Cornelis Danckerts I (1603–1656), that is considered the founder of the family’s map firm. The first known map by Cornelis I is his Charte Universelle de tout le monde par Cornelis Danckertsz. et Melchior Tavernier…, 1628.
Justus I published his earliest maps, Circulus Saxonicus and Portugallia in the early 1680s. He received his privilege on September 12th 1684, at roughly the same time as his two elder sons, Theodorus Danckerts I (1663–1727) and Cornelis Danckerts II (1664–1717), came of age, and joined him in business. Together, by 1686–1687, they had published twenty-two folio-sized maps, some wall-maps, and decorative prints and books. As Koeman reports: “It is very difficult to establish the year of publication as the younger Danckertses never dated their maps and title-pages”, the first atlases appeared in about 1688–1689, based on the de Wit format, with twenty-six to thirty mapsheets. From then, until 1700, the Danckerts atlas grew in size to include sixty mapsheets.
Towards the end of the 1690s, Justus I’s younger sons, Justus II, who died young in 1792, and Eduard (died 1721) were also involved in the firm as engravers; Johannes (died 1712), lived in Frankfurt, and appears to have acted as the German agent for the family.
After 1701, the war of Spanish Succession created a new market for maps of the “theatre of war”, which encompassed the whole of Europe and some parts of the world. This increased the Danckerts portfolio to one hundred and twenty mapsheets.
In the years following Johannes’s death in 1712, there were a series of auctions of the firm’s copper plates, and although they remained in circulation for some time, the firm gently declined until its, and Theodorus I’s, demise in 1727.
For a complete analysis of the Danckerts family tree and atlas production and census, see Dank and Sumeghy, The Danckerts Atlas: The Production and Chronology of Its Maps, in Imago Mundi, Volume 59, number 1 (2007), pages 43–77.