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

Nieuw Amsterdam op t Eylant Manhattans. - Main View

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


The controversial earliest obtainable view of New York City (New Amsterdam).



Nieuw Amsterdam op t Eylant Manhattans.
  1650 (undated)     3 x 12 in (7.62 x 30.48 cm)


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.


Joan (Johannes) Blaeu (September 23, 1596 - December 21, 1673) was a Dutch cartographer active in the 17th century. Joan was the son of Willem Janszoon Blaeu, founder of the Blaeu firm. Like his father Willem, Johannes was born in Alkmaar, North Holland. He studied Law, attaining a doctorate, before moving to Amsterdam to join the family mapmaking business. In 1633, Willem arranged for Johannes to take over Hessel Gerritsz's position as the official chartmaker of the Dutch East India Company, although little is known of his work for that organization, which was by contract and oath secretive. What is known is his work supplying the fabulously wealthy VOC with charts was exceedingly profitable. Where other cartographers often fell into financial ruin, the Blaeu firm thrived. It was most likely those profits that allowed the firm to publish the Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, sive, Atlas Novus, their most significant and best-known publication. When Willem Blaeu died in 1638, Johannes, along with his brother Cornelius Blaeu (1616 - 1648) took over the management of the Blaeu firm. In 1662, Joan and Cornelius produced a vastly expanded and updated work, the Atlas Novus, whose handful of editions ranged from 9 to an astonishing 12 volumes. Under the brothers' capable management, the firm continued to prosper until the 1672 Great Amsterdam Fire destroyed their offices and most of their printing plates. Johannes Blaeu, witnessing the destruction of his life's work, died in despondence the following year. He is buried in the Dutch Reformist cemetery of Westerkerk. Johannes Blaeu was survived by his son, also Johannes but commonly called Joan II, who inherited the family's VOC contract, for whom he compiled maps until 1712. Learn More...


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


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. Checklist of Engraved Views of the City of New York in the New York Public Library, no. 10518.