Map. Engraving with hand coloring. Image measures 15.25" x 20".
This important 1638 map by Willem Blaeu provides an unexpected and unequalled view of the nascent colonies of New Netherlands, labeled with its Latin equivalent of Nova Belgica, and New Amsterdam. Oriented to the west, it proceeds from south at top to north at bottom, producing an oddly oriented but highly detailed account of the coastline. This map publicizes the 1613 discoveries of Dutch captain Adriaen Block, who added to contemporary accumulated knowledge of the coastline through his voyages around Long Island and the Cape. Block's contributions, as noted on his well-known chart of 1614, include the recognition and naming of the islands of Manhates (Manhattan) and Matowacs (Long Island); detailing of the valleys of the Hudson and Connecticut Rivers; and labeling of Nieu Pleimonth, Fort Orange (formerly Fort Nassau), and various other Dutch settlements. While Blaeu repeats the inaccurate horizontality of the coast, he adds to public knowledge of the new continent by depicting local wildlife, including deer, foxes, bears, egrets, rabbits, cranes, and turkeys. Beavers and otters also appear for the first time, although it seems Dutch settlers had not yet discovered that beavers are herbivores, since one is shown clutching a fish in its mouth. The upper left corner of the map contains two inset illustrations of Mohegan villages that, despite their idealization, nonetheless offer insight into the tiny icons of Indian villages dotting the landscape.
First issued in 1635, Blaeu's map was later issued in a number of editions; the French text on verso identifies this particular map as being included in the 1638 French edition of "Le Theatre du Monde." The map is in good condition with minor wear along original centerfold and expert verso repair to lower centerfold. Original plate mark is visible. Full original margins.
One of the most prolific Dutch mapmakers of his time, Willem Blaeu (1571-1638) started one of the most famous map publishing firms of the 17th century. It was at this time that the Dutch controlled the map trade, and their ornate and beautiful maps had immense popularity. Blaeu and his family worked out of Amsterdam and was instrumental in driving this dominance in his lifetime, and this legacy was continued by his sons. This map of the new colonies was one of the most beautiful maps of the Americas from the 17th century.