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1707 Van der Aa Map of New England, commemorating John Smith's Voyages

Nieuw Engeland in Twee Scheeptogten door Kapitein Johan Smith inde Iaren 1614 en 1615 Bestevend. - Main View

1707 Van der Aa Map of New England, commemorating John Smith's Voyages


Captain John Smith's name, applied to contemporary Dutch cartography.



Nieuw Engeland in Twee Scheeptogten door Kapitein Johan Smith inde Iaren 1614 en 1615 Bestevend.
  1707 (undated)     6.25 x 9.25 in (15.875 x 23.495 cm)     1 : 3200000


This is an attractive example of Pieter Van der Aa's 1707 map of New England, issued to illustrate the discoveries Captain John Smith in his 1614 and 1615 voyages. The map covers from the coast of Rhode Island to Penobscot Bay in Maine, showing Cape Cod, Elizabeth Island, and Nantucket.
Dutch Sources
The cartographer Van der Aa bases the cartography upon the contemporaneous Dutch model. The geographic detail and placenames, though compressed on a north-south axis, are derived from the 1651 Jansson 'Prototype Map,' the basis of nearly every map of the Northeast produced in the second half of the 17th century. This geography includes the massive Lacus Irocoisiensis (Lake of the Iroquois), an exaggerated Lake Champlain that the maps of this period placed far to the east of its actual location. Not only the geographic detail, but the placenames are also drawn from the Jansson lineage, rather than the 1616 John Smith map engraved by De Bry (which the present map does not at all resemble.)
A Beautifully Engraved Map
The map, appropriately, is engraved in the Dutch tradition, with forests and mountains shown pictorially. An elegant compass rose is placed near Cape Cod. The superb cartouche shows Europeans trading for furs and skins with Native Americans; in the background, a group of Europeans stand with barrels of goods, waving to the finely-rendered ships offshore - or possibly, to the mermaid in the water beside them.
Publication History and Census
Van der Aa prepared this map for inclusion in volume 16 of his Naaukeurige Versameling, published in 1707. We are aware of four separate examples of this map cataloged in institutional collections: the Universitatsbibliothek Erlangen-Nürnberg, the Osher library, the American Antiquarian Society Library, and the Bert Twaalfhoven Collection at Fordham University. Van der Aa's Naaukeurige Versameling is well represented in OCLC.


Pieter van der Aa (1659 - 1733) was a Dutch publisher of maps and atlases active in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Van der Aa was born in Leyden in 1659. At nine he was apprenticed to a local bookseller and, by 21, had established his own publishing, printing, and auctioneering house. In 1692 Van der Aa was appointed to be one of the High Commissioners of the Booksellers Guild. During his long and impressive career Van der Aa produced thousands of maps, including a vast 28 volume atlas containing no less than 3,000 maps. Few of Van der Aa's maps were original productions, most being copied from the work of earlier cartographers. Nonetheless, when one of Van der Aa's rare original pieces does appear, his style, with unusual projections, elegant engraving, and precise detail, is instantly recognizable and highly desirable. He also pioneered the cartographic idea of separating border artwork from the map plate itself such that every map in a collection could have a similar elaborate border without actually having to re-engrave the complex plates. This technique was used to great effect by later 18th century publishers like Brion de la Tour. Following Van der Aa's death in 1733, his much admired Nouvel Atlas was reissued by the Dutch firm of Covens & Mortier. Today Van der Aa's work is admired for its fine delicate engraving and unusual projections and is considered highly desirable among collectors. Learn More...

Captain John Smith (1580 - 1631) was an English soldier, explorer, colonial governor, Admiral of New England, author, and self-promoter. He was pivotal in the establishment of the first permanent English settlement in America (Jamestown, Virginia) and was the first Englishman to map the Chesapeake Bay, and the coast of New England. His maps of these areas, especially his mapping of the Chesapeake, were broadly influential: there are few maps of Virginia that were produced in the 17th century that do not derive from his work. His books describing the Virginia Colony were themselves important in encouraging further settlement.

Smith was born to a farming family in Lincolnshire; after his father's death, he began his military career as a mercenary, fighting with the French at war with Spain. He was intermittently a merchant and a pirate in the Mediterranean, where his travels brought him into the fight against the Ottoman Turks. He fought for the Austrian Habsburgs in Hungary, and fought for Radu Șerban in Wallachia against Ottoman vassal Ieremia Movilă. His coat of arms - featuring three Turkish heads - was itself a gruesome memento of Smith's reputedly killing and beheading of three Ottoman challengers in single-combat duels. His fortunes turned in 1602, which saw him captured and enslaved by the Crimean Tatars, captured, and sold as a slave - a condition which apparently lasted only long enough for him to escape to Muscovy, thence to take the scenic route back to England in 1604.

In 1606, Smith was sent as one of the leaders of London's Virginia Company's effort to colonize Virginia. Over the course of the next year, as some sixty percent of the settlers died of starvation and disease, Smith explored Chesapeake Bay and its vicinity, producing his seminal, wildly influential map which would be eagerly copied by mapmakers throughout the next century. Preserved on this map was also a body of water, reported to Smith by Native Americans, which he believed to be either a massive lake, or the Sea of Verrazano - in short, the Pacific. He was forced to return to England in 1609 following his injury in a gunpowder explosion in his canoe. While in England, Smith passed on a tip on this possible Pacific passage to Henry Hudson, who would gain no joy of it.

Smith did not return to Virginia. He did, however, return to America, exploring the coast of New England in 1614. (This name was his own; Smith's New England would be the first map to employ that appellation.) Smith's 1614 journey was meant to capture whales for their oil, and to find gold or copper mines. Failing these, they found instead fish and furs. It is also very likely that in his exploration of the northeastern coast, Smith was the same Sea of Verrazano that so tantalized Hudson.

A difficulty with Smith's biography is that so much of it relies entirely on his own report: and Smith does not at all appear to have been a modest man. Learn More...

Jan Jansson or Johannes Janssonius (1588 - 1664) was born in Arnhem, Holland. He was the son of a printer and bookseller and in 1612 married into the cartographically prominent Hondius family. Following his marriage he moved to Amsterdam where he worked as a book publisher. It was not until 1616 that Jansson produced his first maps, most of which were heavily influenced by Blaeu. In the mid 1630s Jansson partnered with his brother-in-law, Henricus Hondius, to produce his important work, the eleven volume Atlas Major. About this time, Jansson's name also begins to appear on Hondius reissues of notable Mercator/Hondius atlases. Jansson's last major work was his issue of the 1646 full edition of Jansson's English Country Maps. Following Jansson's death in 1664 the company was taken over by Jansson's brother-in-law Johannes Waesberger. Waesberger adopted the name of Jansonius and published a new Atlas Contractus in two volumes with Jansson's other son-in-law Elizée Weyerstraet with the imprint 'Joannis Janssonii haeredes' in 1666. These maps also refer to the firm of Janssonius-Waesbergius. The name of Moses Pitt, an English map publisher, was added to the Janssonius-Waesbergius imprint for maps printed in England for use in Pitt's English Atlas. Learn More...


Van der Aa, P., Naaukeurige versameling der gedenk-waardigste zee en land-reysen na Oost en West-Indien, (Leyden) 1707.    


Very good. Original fold lines. Marginal mend at top not impacting image. Blank on verso. Fine hand color.


McCorkle, B. B, New England in Early Printed Maps 1513 - 1800, 707.2.