Justus Danckerts’ map of the New Netherlands

Iusto Danckers [aka Justus Danckerts], Novi Belgii Novaeque Angliae Nec Non Pennsylvaniae et Partis Virginiae Tabula multis in locis emendate…. [Amsterdam, ca. 1684.]
Engraving, 18.5"h x 22"w plus margins, original color. Archivally framed.

Justus Danckerts’ take on the iconic 17th-century map of the New Netherlands, New England, Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland and Virginia.

The so-called “Jansson-Visscher” series of maps began with Johannes Jansson’s 1651 Belgii Novi, which was published in Amsterdam and patriotically depicted a sprawling New Netherlands with a tiny New England confined east of the Connecticut River. That map appeared in the context of the proposed Treaty of Hartford (1650), an agreement to cede the Connecticut River region to the English. The treaty highlighted the problem faced by the Dutch colonies, at the time essentially a string of thinly-populated trading posts, confronted by the English, who were conducting an aggressive settlement policy. It seems likely that Jansson’s map was intended as a promotional piece to encourage increased settlement to provide a broader foundation for the New Netherlands.

Jansson’s map was copied by Nicholas Visscher in 1655, who enhanced its appeal by introducing an inset view of New Amsterdam at lower right. Some time around 1673—the very year the Dutch recaptured the New Netherlands from the Engish–Justus Danckerts issued his own version, copied from that of Visscher.

By the 1680s the English had wrested the New Netherlands back from the Dutch, William Penn had founded Pennsylvania, and geographic knowledge of the region had advanced considerably. When he reissued the Novi Belgii in or around 1684, Danckerts accordingly made a number of substantial changes, as described by Burden:

“Following the founding of Philadelphia a revised state was produced.  However, unlike the competing maps [i.e., other post-1682 maps in the Jansson-Visscher series] which largely confined themselves to the city’s addition, Danckerts updated the map in a significant manner.  The Delaware River is completely revised so that it no longer connects with the Hudson River.  Richard Daniel’s A Map of ye English Empire…  c. 1679, had depicted a similar river system.  Pennsylvania is named, its boundary is marked, and many largely domesticated animals are engraved within the region.  Recognition of the English hold over New Amsterdam is seen in the addition to the title to the view of Nieuw Yorck, eertys Genaemt ….”

For all these important alterations, Danckerts could not bring himself to acknowledge the fundamental geo-political shift represented by the English conquest of the New Netherlands.  The second state of the Novi Belgii still depicts a vast “Nova Belgica sive Nieuw Nederlandt” dwarfing tiny New England, and the only allusion to New York is, as observed by Burden, in the title of the inset view.

Offered here is the third and final state of the map–variously dated 1685-1690–with just a few minor additions, including “Niew Castel alias Sandhoeck” added to the west bank of Delaware Bay and “Yermonton” to the north of Philadelphia.

The Danckerts family
The Danckerts family were one of the best, and most long-lived map publishers in eighteenth Amsterdam, although the dominance of the major firms—the Blaeus, the Hondius-Janssonius family, the Visschers and Frederick de Wit–meant that they were never able to achieve their full commercial potential and today often don’t receive the recognition they are due.

The family business was founded by Cornelis (1603-1656), active as an engraver in the 1620s, turned mapmaker and publisher, who was succeeded by his son Danckers (1634-1666) and then Justus (I) (1635-1701). Justus was joined and then succeeded by his sons Theodorus Danckerts (I) (1663–1727) and Cornelis Danckerts (II) (1664–1717), and the business continued in the hands of later generations.

The real hey-day of the firm was under Justus (I). In his early career he specialized in broadsheet news-maps and wall-maps, with his earliest map believed to be Coman’s map of the very successful Dutch raid on the Medway, 1667, and then the Novi Belgii published to coincide with the short-lived Dutch re-occupation of New Amsterdam in 1673. He was the first to move into atlas publishing, this expansion coinciding with the arrival of his sons, both accomplished engravers. It may be that the third brother Justus (II) also worked in the firm, but his early death in 1692 limited his contribution.

The first edition of the Danckerts’ Atlas appeared around 1680, with later editions containing an ever-expanding complement of maps, reducing the firm’s dependence on other mapmakers for content. The Novi Belgii was incorporated into some copies of the atlas from the mid-1680s onwards.

In all, an attractive edition of an iconic map of Colonial America, interesting for both its updates and its anachronisms.

Burden, The Mapping of North America, vol. II #434, state 3. Campbell, “The Jansson-Visscher Maps of New England,” #9a (in Tooley, The Mapping of America).  Stokes, The Iconography of Manhattan Island, vol. 1 pp. 148-150 and plate 7-A (illustrating the first state of the map).  Background from De Koning, “From Van der Donck to Visscher,” Mercator’s World vol. 5 no. 4 (July/August 2000), pp. 28-33.  Baynton-Williams, “Printed Maps of New England to 1780, Part II: 1670-1700”, #1673c.


Mended split in lower centerfold, else excellent