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An important and very rare early Dutch Sea Chart, focusing on Canada, New England, the Eastern Caribbean, Brazil, Guyana and Venezuela.
This attractive sea chart assumes the perspective of the westward direction facing upwards and embraces the Western Atlantic Ocean from the Canaries and Azores, in the east, to the eastern reaches of the American continents. It features North America from Delaware up to and including Newfoundland, the West Indies from Hispaniola through to the Barbados, and South America from eastern Colombia through to Pernambuco, Brazil.
Cartographically, the depiction of the Mid-Atlantic region, New England and eastern Canada are quite distinct. It is derived from Anthonie Jacobsz Theunisz's very rare chart, Pascaert vande Carybes, Nieu Neder landt, Brazil... (Amsterdam, 1650).
The depiction of the American coasts running from the Delaware River to Cape Cod departs from the portrayal commonly used on contemporary Dutch charts that were largely derived from Adiaen Block's maps of 1614. On the present chart, Long Island is more correctly shown to have an elongated (as opposed to bulbous) form, while Narragansett Bay is shown to correctly open to the south (whereas the Block maps show the mouth of the bay to be sheltered by an island). The Hudson and the Connecticut Rivers are shown to be of exaggerated width, likely as a point of visual emphasis on their utility for inland travel, as opposed to being an accurate depiction of their breadth. Colom likely had access to a variety of Dutch sources emanating from the activities of the Dutch West India Company (the VOC). As a result of its control of the colony of New Netherlands, the VOC controlled the region extending roughly from modern Delaware to Connecticut, holdings which they would maintain until the English conquest of New Amsterdam (New York), in 1664.
Colom's depiction of Atlantic Canada and Northern New England is likewise interesting. The coasts of Massachusetts Bay and the Gulf of Maine roughly follow the outline shown on John Smith's 1616 map. The overall shape of the Gulf and estuary of St. Lawrence is roughly derived from Samuel de Champlain's 1632 map, but is not a precise copy. Likewise, while not a clear case of duplication, the Nova Scotian peninsula is shown to take on a more bulbous form, akin to that shown on Sir William Alexander Stirlings' 1625 map. Newfoundland assumes a block-like form, in line with recent English cartography, notably John Mason's 1625 map.
Further south, the depiction of the eastern Caribbean is relatively conventional for the time, and shows the WIC's direct experience in the region, having recently settled a number of islands, including Curaçao and Saint Martin. The coasts of South America prominently feature the mouths of the Amazon and Orinoco rivers. The mapping of Northeastern Brazil is derived from WIC maps disseminated by Caspar Barlaeus during the recent Dutch hegemony over the region (the Portuguese only managed to evict the Dutch from the region in 1654, the year before this map was issued).
Arnold Colom was the son of Jacob Colom, a well regarded Amsterdam bookseller, printer, and chartmaker. Colom produced two sea atlases, a guide and pilot for the Mediterranean and a general sea atlas of the World. Colom's Zee Atlas, published between 1654-58, was one of the largest format sea atlases of the 17th Century, with each chart printed from an oversized copper plate. Koeman describes the atlas as "One of the most important atlases in the well known category of Dutch sea-atlases".
Apart from its rarity, the Zee-Atlas was of importance for its inclusion of the earliest Dutch sea chart of the New Netherlands to appear in an atlas (Jacob Theunisz Lootsman's chart is believed to pre-date it, but seems not to have been regularly published until later), while the "three charts of the oceans are on the same scale (1:14mill.) as Portuguese and Spanish charts of that time. It marked the first time that such charts were published as atlas sheets" (Koeman IV, p.115).
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