The Secret Atlas
Dutch East India Company
The Secret Atlas of the Dutch East India Company
We are very pleased to offer a collection of sea charts
from the so-called "secret atlas" of the Dutch East India
For many regions in Asia and Africa, these printed maps
are the best and the only accurate early maps.
The maps are never in the market, and many collectors
have waited a lifetime to find these, they are beyond
doubt the non plus ultra of printed maps of the East
Indies and the Indian Ocean.
For two centuries, from 1602 to 1799, the Dutch East India Company
(VOC: Vereenigde Geoctroieerde Oostindische Compagnie) ruled the waters
of Asia and Africa. Accurate charting of these waters was essential for
succesful and safe navigation.
The VOC had their own mapmaking office. During the first 150 years,
only secret manuscript charts were used, to minimize the risk of
spreading the knowledge to competitors. For an example of such a
unique manuscript chart that is offered by us click here.
From 1753 onwards, a printed atlas was used, with printed charts to
navigate the waters from South Africa to Japan. The atlas was produced
by Johannes (II) van Keulen, official hydrographer to the VOC, and
was officially known as Part VI of the Zee-Fakkel (Sea-Torch).
There was a variety of reasons to publish the charts in print:
The atlas is known as the secret atlas because it was not sold
and only used by VOC ships. For these reasons it is extremely rare,
and only a few examples have survived.
In the course of 150 years the
knowledge of these waters had leaked out
to other European nations and secrecy was
of less importance.
Printed maps were more accurate
and less prone to errors than manuscript
Loose maps were impractical
and sometimes lost despite the strict
policies of use.
Last but not least,
printed maps were cheaper to (re-)produce
than manuscript maps.
In addition, the number if charts in the atlas is often limited
because ships that did not sail to India/Ceylon or China/Formosa/Japan
were given restricted versions of the atlas that did not contain the
charts of these areas.
The charts offered here are in pristine collector's condition,
no restorations or imperfections. Printed on thick robust double
layer paper intended for use at sea. There is no discoloration of
the paper. The margins are wide. The copperplate imprints are strong.
On offer are the most desirable of maps in the best possible condition.
Click for descriptions and pictures
Prices are quoted in Euro.
Click on any price to convert to other currencies.
Central & East Africa
South East Asia Regions