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1652 Blaeu View of New Amsterdam (the earliest obtainable view of New York City)


Price:   $$$$ (item sold)


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Title:    Nieuw Amsterdam op t Eylant Manhattans.

Description:    A remarkable discovery, this is the second earliest published, and the earliest obtainable, view of New York City (the earliest being Joost Hartgers unobtainable view of 1651). Issued around 1653 by the Dutch cartographer Joannes Blaeu, this view details the southern tip of Manhattan, then New Amsterdam (Nieuw Amsterdam), as it appeared under the Dutch colonial government. There is some debate regarding the date of the original rendering of this view but most use the building on the far left, which if correctly identified was built around April of 1652, and the pronounced lack of New Amsterdam's walls which were built in 1653, to date the sketch. There is also some debate regarding the image's original author. Although Stokes refutes this, our research suggests it is most likely derived from a 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 1653 which corresponds to this example. Later it was adopted by another Dutch cartographer, Nicholas Visscher, who used it to illustrate his influential 1655 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 an all but unobtainable view and a once in a lifetime opportunity for the serious Manhattan collector.

Date:    1650 (undated)

References:    Koning, Joep M.J. de, 'From Van der Donck to Visscher: A 1648 View of New Amsterdam,' 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 3 in height x 12 inches in width (7.62 x 30.48 centimeters)

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

Code:   NieuwAmsterdamManhattan-blaeu-1652 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)

© Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Kevin Brown, 20/4/2014



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