1687 Van Keulen Map of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize and Honduras

Pas-kaart van de Golff de Guanaios met 't Canaal Tusschen Yucatan en I. Cuba - Main View

1687 Van Keulen Map of the Yucatan Peninsula, Belize and Honduras


1687 Chart of the Yucatan Peninsula and Coast of Honduras


Pas-kaart van de Golff de Guanaios met 't Canaal Tusschen Yucatan en I. Cuba
  1687 (undated)     20 x 22.75 in (50.8 x 57.785 cm)     1 : 1674343


A superb 1687 nautical chart or maritime map of the coasts of Honduras, Belize, Mexico and Cuba: it is one of the first, if not the first printed chart to focus on the Yucatan Peninsula. This southern-oriented chart shows the essential shipping lanes passing landward of Cuba. Place names appear in Spanish, indicating that Van Keulen's sources for his map were Spanish in origin. Cape Camaron and Cape Honduras are marked on the coast, which is broadly named 'Honduras' (at the expense of Guatemala, whose claim to the coast does not appear here.) The coastal islands of Guanaja and Utila are named; the island later known as Ruatan is here named Guayana. East of the Yucatan Peninsula the island of Cozumel, with surrouding shallows, is apparent. Several of the islands along the coast of Mexico and Belize are named. Quintana Roo appears as the island of Quitaxvenho; the Islands and Bay of Chetumal appear more recognizably. Other place names - Isla Pantoja, Isla Zaratan - appear to have disappeared in modern cartography.

Despite the vagaries of 17th century toponymy, Van Keulen included much intended to be useful. Throughout the chart, shallows and rocky areas are noted: important coastal approaches are accompanied with simple coastal views. The chart is decorative as well, with an attractively rendered ship, two compass roses, rhumb lines and a beautifully engraved cartouche with two putti, one coiling a plumb line, and one clambering up the cartouche to pick a flower.
Publication History and Census
Although they are not dated, Van Keulen's charts can generally be assigned associated with years of publication based on typographical changes. First states of the charts from the fourth volume of Keulen's Zee-Fakkel lack page numbers; these are dated 1684. Second states, dated 1687, have a page number added to the lower left corner: this corresponds to the present example. The 1695 third state has page numbers in both lower corners. OCLC only reveals two copies of this map in institutional collections, in later states. Several examples of the chart have appeared at auction and in dealer's catalogues over the past ten years, although most of these have proved to be of the 1695 edition of the chart or later.


Johannis Van Keulen (1654 – 1715) was a Dutch cartographer active in Amsterdam during the late 17th century. Keulen was the son of Lucas van Keulen. Keulen's firm, ‘In de Gekroonde Lootsman' (In the Crowned Pilot), was founded in 1678 and registered with the Amsterdam Bookseller's guild as 'Cross staff-maker and bookseller'. The cross-staff is a nautical instrument used to determine latitude. Two years later, in 1680, they obtained a patent from the States General of Holland and West Friesland to publish nautical charts and atlases. Together with his partner, the cartographer Claes Janz Vooght, Van Keulen published numerous atlases and nautical charts, including the Zee Atlas and Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel. This later work, the Zee-Fakkel, often called the 'Secret Atlas' as it was restricted to pilots associated with the Dutch East India Company or VOC. The term, Zee-Fakkel translates to 'Sea Torch.' It was a massive five volume atlas containing more than 130 nautical charts. The Zee-Fakkel established the Van Keulen firm as the pre-eminent maker of Dutch sea charts in the late 17th and early 18th century. In 1714, one year before Johannis Van Keulen death, his son, Gerard van Keulen (1678 - 1726), took charge. Gerard continued to update and republish the Zee-Fakkel until his own death in 1726. The firm was later passed on to Gerard's son, Johannes II Van Keulen (1704 - 1755), who significantly updated the atlas, especially with regard to Asia. The final editions of the atlas were published by Gerard Hulst van Keulen (1733 - 1801), Joannes II's son. The final true Van Keulen edition of the Zee-Fakkel was published posthumously in 1803. It is noteworthy that though ostensibly controlled by the Van Keulen men, it was the Van Keulen widows who maintained and managed the firm in the periods following their husbands' deaths. After the death of Gerard Hulst Van Keulen's son, Johannes Hulst Van Keulen, ownership of the family plates and business fell into the hands of the Swart family who continued to publish until the company closed its doors 1885, ending cartographic legacy spanning nearly 207 years. Learn More...

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Keulen, J. van, De Nieuwe Groote Lichtende Zee-Fakkel, Part IV (Amsterdam) 1687. Also in: Keulen, J. van, Zee-Atlas (Amsterdam) 1687.    


Very good. Some unobtrusive spotting. Centerfold reinforced at top.


Koeman, C., Atlantes Neerlandici. Bibliography of Terrestrial, Maritime and Celestial Atlases and Pilot Books, Published in the Netherlands up to 1880, vol IV,pp. 276-401.