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1650 Blaeu View of New Amsterdam (the earliest obtainable view of New York City)


Nieuw Amsterdam op t Eylant Manhattans.
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Title:    Nieuw Amsterdam op t Eylant Manhattans.

Description:    A remarkable discovery, this is the earliest published view of New York City. Issued around 1650 by the Dutch cartographer Johannes Blaeu, this view details the southern tip of Manhattan, then New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam), as it appeared in 1648 under the Peter Stuyvesant's Dutch (VOC) corporate governance. There is some debate regarding the image's original author. Although certain scholars refutes this, our research suggests it is most certainly derived from a 1648 watercolor illustration of New Amsterdam (New York) discovered in the Albertina Collection of Vienna in 1991. The Albertina watercolor is probably the work of Augustin Herman (c. 1621 1686), a cartographer and illustrator of Bohemian descent who settled in New York (New Amsterdam) in the 1640s. Blaeu engraved and published the view independently as Nieuw Amsterdam op t eyland Manhatttans around 1650 which corresponds to this example. Later it was adopted by another Dutch cartographer, Nicholas Visscher, who used it to illustrate his influential 1651 (first state) map of the Middle Atlantic and New England entitled Novi Belgii. Despite lacking in significant cartographic innovation, Novi Belgii is an enormously significant map for its widespread popularization of Blaeu's historic view. To this day Nieuw Amsterdam op t eyland Manhatttans is commonly, if somewhat erroneously, referred to as the 'Visscher View'. This is a nearly but unobtainable view and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the serious Manhattan collector.

The present example is exceptional in that it features the full Blaeu owl shaped watermark. Since all examples of this view are cuttings - that is, several different images etched onto a plate, printed onto one sheet, and then cut into individual prints, thus lacking plate marks - not all examples of the view feature the watermark in part or full, see image at right. This example, featuring a remarkable full watermark is extraordinary. As noted by de Koning in his July/August 2000 Mercator's World article, 'Origins of the Visscher View',
All known copies of the Blaeu cutting are printed on watermarked Blaeu paper, on which he also printed his famous Town Book of 1648. In 1672, a year before Blaeu's death, a fire destroyed his entire printing business and reduced his paper inventory, plates, and presses to ashes. No available blank Blaeu paper since has been found.


Date:    1650 (undated)

References:    Mercator's World, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Jul/Aug 2000), pp 28-33. Stokes, I. N. P., The Iconography of Manhattan Island, 1498-1909, pp 25ff, cf. pl. 9. Burden, P. D., The Mapping of North America: A List of Printed Maps, 1511-1670, #315 and #317. http://cartography.geog.uu.nl/explokart/mappae_summaries.html Checklist of Engraved Views of the City of New York in the New York Public Library, no. 10518.

Cartographer:    The Amsterdam based Blaeu clan represents the single most important family in the history of cartography. The firm was founded in 1596 by Willem Janzoon Blaeu (1571-1638). It was in this initial period, from 1596 to 1672, under the leadership of the Willem Blaeu and with this assistance of his two talented sons Cornelius (1616-1648) and Johannis (1596-1673), that the firm was most active. Their greatest cartographic achievement was the publication of the magnificent multi-volume Atlas Major. To this day, the Atlas Major represents one of the finest moments in cartography. The vast scope, staggering attention to detail, historical importance, and unparalleled beauty of this great work redefined the field of cartography in ways that have endured well into to the modern era. The cartographic works of the Blaeu firm are the crowning glory of the Dutch Golden Age of Cartography. The firm shut down in 1672 when their offices were destroyed during the Great Amsterdam Fire. The fire also destroyed all of Blaeu's original printing plates and records, an incomparable loss to the history of cartography. Click here for a list of rare maps by Blaeu.

Size:   Printed area measures 12 x 3 inches (30.48 x 7.62 centimeters)

Condition:    Very good condition. Light soiling upper left corner and right margin. Else very clean.

Code:   NieuwAmsterdamManhattan2-blaeu-1652 (to order by phone call: 646-483-0487)

Tags:    View , New Amsterdam , Manhattan , Blaeu

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