A map “… of extreme importance” (Burden)

Nicolas Visscher, NOVI BELGII NOVAEQUE ANGLIAE NEC NON PARTIS VIRGINIAE…, [Amsterdam, ca. 1656] .
Engraving, 17.5"h x 20.5"w plus margins, full original color retouched
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Exceptionally desirable for its advanced geography and one of the earliest views of New Amsterdam. An example of the second and earliest obtainable state.

Physical geography
This map is one of the most important entries in the “Jansson-Visscher” series, which began with Joannes Jansson‘s 1651 Belgii Novi (Burden #305). In the mid-17th century this was the best depiction of the mid-Atlantic and Northeast on a printed map. The appeal and documentary value of Nicholas Visscher‘s edition is greatly enhanced by the addition at lower right of an inset view of New Amsterdam. Drawing on Stokes, Burden suggests that the view was first drawn in 1652-53, before the famous wall was built to fortify the northern end of the town.

According to Stokes the prototype for the Jansson-Visscher maps was a now-lost map executed by or for Peter Minuit around 1630. The Minuit in turn seems to have been based on John Smith’s Virginia (1612) for the Chesapeake; Adriaen Block’s manuscript (ca. 1614) for northern New England and the St. Lawrence; and Smith’s New England (1616) for Massachusetts Bay and the Maine coast. It integrated these sources to yield a coherent depiction of the coastal region and the major river systems that were essential to shaping settlement patterns. (Stokes, Iconography, v. II p. 118)

Superimposed on the Minuit framework is more recent information from surveys made during the early years of the New Netherlands. In addition to providing up-to-date information on settlements in and around the New Netherlands, these source surveys made it possible to provide the first correct delineation of Manhattan and Long Island on a printed map. In all, Stokes argues, “[The] map gives the best and most complete representation that we have of New Netherland during the Dutch period; it may correctly be described as a scientific map, in the making of which advantage was taken of all the material available….”

For all these advances, this map replicates important flaws of its sources: a haphazard depiction of the St. Lawrence River, no sign of Lake Ontario, Cape Cod at essentially the same latitude as New York City, and the Del-Mar-Va Peninsula badly distended along its East-West axis. Many of these errors can be traced back to the Block and Smith source maps mentioned above.

Political geography
The map documents the tense state of affairs between the Dutch and English in the New World, with a decidedly Dutch slant. The region from well west of the Hudson River all the way to the eastern bank of the Connecticut is labeled “Nova Belgica sive Nieuw Nederlandt.” Actual Dutch settlements, however, are shown clustered at Manhattan and along the Hudson, with a very few outposts along the Connecticut and Delaware. By contrast, numerous English settlements (“Stamfort,” “Milfort,” &c.) extend westward from the Connecticut along Long Island Sound, encroaching far into the New Netherlands.

In contrast to the expansive view of Dutch holdings, New England is shown more or less confined to the region east of the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain. The depiction of the area is based largely on an early state of John Smith’s New England map (1616) and thereby shows only New Plymouth and several imaginary towns, while omitting all the recent settlements of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Further limiting the English presence, Cape Cod is labeled “Nieuw Hollandt,” a claim based on Adriaen Block’s ca. 1611 voyage along the coast rather than on any permanent Dutch presence in the area.

A closer look at the map reveals just how few and scattered European settlements were, concentrated as they were along the coasts and major rivers. The names of native American peoples and villages fill much of the map, conveying the impression that for the time being they remained the real power in the region.

References
Offered here is an example of the second state of the map, showing “‘t Fort Kasimier” but not Philadelphia.

Augustyn and Cohen, Manhattan in Maps, pp. 32-33. Baynton-Williams, “Printed Maps of New England to 1780, Part II: 1670-1700,” #1655:01b (in MapForum.com, vol. 2:13). Burden, The Mapping of North America, #315, state 2 . Campbell, “The Jansson-Visscher Maps of New England,” #5 (in Tooley, The Mapping of America). De Koning, “From Van der Donck to Visscher,” Mercator’s World vol. 5 no. 4 (July/August 2000), pp. 28-33. McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, #655.1. Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, vol. 1 pp. 147-148, plate 7-b.

Condition

Toned overall, some tiny areas of loss filled. Lined on verso to support oxidized green pigment.