A very attractive c. 1765 flag chart issued by Matthias Seutter and Tobias Conrad Lotter. The flag features 139 flags of various nations, factions, and trading companies. Among the more interesting flags are those of the Dutch West India Company (G.W.C. /Geoctroyeerde Westindische Compagnie) and the Dutch East India Company (V.O.C. / Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie). The premier placement of English flags in the upper left quadrant suggest that this chart may have been copied from an English source.
Dragon Flag of China At bottom center the flag of Empire of China (Sina) stands out. It appears as a great whirlpool surrounded by eight decorations. This is most likely based upon an image of the Chinese flag appearing in Carl Allard's 1705 Dutch flag book, Niewe Hollandse Scheeps Bouw. In fact, it is a misinterpretation of the Qing flag, a dragon on a yellow field with eight banners. However, European mapmakers, likely having never seen a Chinese flag, interpreted the dragon to the best of their ability.
Census and Publication HistoryThis map is probably derived from a Dutch flag chart issued by Danckerts c. 1700. The chart was picked up by J. B. Homann, who issued in own variant c. 1710. When Seutter left the Homann firm early in the 18th century, he may have taken this plate with him or simply copied it. Seutter issued his own variant sometime after 1737, as the chart notes his privilege, a kind of early copyright suggestive of royal patronage, at top center. After the 1762 death of Seutter's son, Albrecht Carl Seutter, the plate for this map was acquired by Tobias Conrad Lotter, Matthias Seutter's son in law, who added his own imprint at bottom center – as in the present example.
Matthäus Seutter (1678 - 1757) was one of the most important and prolific German map publishers of the 18th century. Seutter was born the son of a goldsmith but apprenticed as a brewer. Apparently uninspired by the beer business, Seutter abandoned his apprenticeship and moved to Nuremberg where he apprenticed as an engraver under the tutelage of the prominent J. B. Homann. Sometime in the early 1700s Seutter left Homann to return to Augsburg, where he worked for the prominent art publisher jeremiad Wolff (1663 - 1724), for whom he engraved maps and other prints. Sometime around 1717 he established his own independent cartographic publishing firm in Augsburg. Though he struggled in the early years of his independence, Seutter's engraving skill and commitment to diversified map production eventually attracted a substantial following. Most of Seutter's maps are heavily based upon, if not copies of, earlier work done by the Homann and De L'Isle firms. Nonetheless, by 1731/32 Seutter was one of the most prolific publishers of his time and was honored by the German Emperor Karl VI who gave him the title of Imperial Geographer, after which most subsequent maps included the Avec Privilege designation. Seutter continued to publish until his death, at the height of his career, in 1757. Seutter had two engraver sons, Georg Matthäus Seutter (1710 - 173?) and Albrecht Carl Seutter (1722 - 1762). Georg Matthäus quit the business and relocated to Woehrdt in 1729 (and probably died shortly thereafter), leaving the family inheritance to his wastrel brother Albrecht Carl Seutter, who did little to advance the firm until in own death in 1762. Following Albrecht's death, the firm was divided between the established Johann Michael Probst (1727 - 1776) firm and the emerging firm of Tobias Conrad Lotter. Lotter, Matthäus Seutter's son-in-law, was a master engraver and worked tirelessly on behalf of the Suetter firm. It is Lotter, who would eventually become one of the most prominent cartographers of his day, and his descendants, who are generally regarded as the true successors to Matthäus Seutter. (Ritter, M. Seutter, Probst and Lotter: An Eighteenth-Century Map Publishing House in Germany., "Imago Mundi", Vol. 53, (2001), pp. 130-135.)
Tobias Conrad Lotter (1717 - 1777) was a German engraver and map publisher. Letter was the son of a baker and city guardsman, but married Euphrosina (1709-1784) Seutter, elder daughter of the prominent map publisher Matthäus Seutter. He began working at his is father-in-law's map business about 1740. Between 1740 and 1744 he produced, under Seutter's imprint, the Atlas minor, Praecipua orbis terrarum imperia, regna et provincias, Germania potissimum tabelli. Upon Seutter's death, in 1757, the firm's stock was taken over by his son, Albrecht Karl Seutter (1722-1762), who himself died in 1762, just a few years later. The remaining Suetter map plates were subsequently divided between Lotter and the publisher Johan Mitchell Probst (1727 - 1776). With the support of his sons, Matthäus Albrecht (1741-1810), Georg Friedrich (1744-1801) and Gustav Conrad (1746-1776), Tobias Conrad Lotter succeeded in building on the economic success and professional reputation of his father-in-law. In time, Lotter became one of the most prominent mid-18th century map publishers working in the German school. After Lotter's death in 1777, the business was taken over by his two eldest sons, who, lacking their father's business acumen, presided over the firm's slow decline. It was nonetheless passed on to a subsequent generation of Lotters, Matthäus Albrecht Lotter's sons, Gabriel (1776-1857) and Georg Friedrich (1787-1864), who pushed it into further decline until it faded out in the early-19th century.