Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of Java by Visscher

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Stock number: 19123

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Claes Janszoon Visscher (biography)



First Published

Amsterdam, 1649

This Edition

1649 first and only edition


8.5 x 12.5 cms




This Item is Sold


The rarest of all early maps of Java.

In 1649, Claes Janszoon Visscher publishes a pocket atlas named Tabularum Geographicarum Contractarum. The atlas is of utmost rarity and was long believed to have survived only in one single example in the British Library, until a second copy (lacking the title page) was found in the State Library of Victoria.

The atlas is so rare that it is lacking in nearly all collections. Only 3 atlas copies found on WorldCat: British Library seems to be complete, State Library Victoria (Australia) almost complete, University of Michigan, with 80 maps of Europe only.


Paper color off-white/ivory with no restorations or imperfections. Wide margins all around. A dark and even impression of the copperplate, hardly any sign sign of plate wear, especially for a copperplate that was over 50 years old when this imprint was made. Blank on verso as called for. Pristine collector's condition.

Tabularum Geographicarum Contractarum

The map was issued in 1649 in the Tabularum Geographicarum Contractarum or Atlas Contractus by the distinguished Claes Janszoon Visscher (1587-1652). In this pocket atlas, all maps appear with a signature mark in the lower right. This particular map has f.25. Such numbers are intended for the bookbinder, to instruct where and in what order to bind the maps into the atlas. Signature marks were generally printed in typeset on the verso of maps, in addition to the page number. The reason is that the bookbinder works in terms of sections or gatherings, groups of paper sheets that need to be folded, and not in terms of page numbers. Because Visscher did not add any printed text to this atlas, leaving the verso of the maps blank, he chose to engrave the signature marks in the lower right corners of the maps.

In 1649 Visscher had come into possession of the original Langenes plates first used in 1598, which were originally owned by the Amsterdam publisher Cornelis Claesz, where Visscher had worked as a young apprentice. H. Laurentsz re-printed the atlas in 1609 and 1612, and the whereabouts of those copperplates is uncertain until they again appear in 1649. Apart from the old Langenes copperplates, Visscher adds a few new maps (like this one) made by himself, as well as a few unrecorded maps that must have been made around 1598-1599 by Benjamin Wright when he (and Claes Janszoon Visscher) worked for Claesz.

Claes Janszoon Visscher was already at a respectable age when he issued the Atlas Contractus, but he knew the fifty years old maps by Langenes very well, because at a young age he had worked as an apprentice for Cornelis Claesz (c.1551-1609), who had been the stimulator and driving force of Dutch cartography, and who had been the publisher of the Langenes atlas.

It is possible that Visscher had already acquired the Langenes copperplates at the famous 1610 auction of the stock of books, maps, prints and copperplates of his former employer Cornelis Claesz. Never before had the Dutch Republic witnessed an auction of books and prints and copperplates of comparable scale.

According to Peter van der Krogt (New Koeman Volume III), no more than 8 copies of the atlas are known, of which only 6 are complete.

Reference: van der Krogt Koeman's Atklantes Neerlandici, Volume III, map 8150:341:54.

Claes Janszoon Visscher 1587-1652
Nicolaes Visscher I (son) 1618–1679
Nicolaes Visscher II (grandson) 1649-1702
Elisabeth Visscher (widow of N. Visscher II)

"For nearly a century the members of the Visscher family were important art dealers and map publishers in Amsterdam. The founder of the business, Claes Janszoon Visscher, had premises near to those of Pieter van den Keere and Jodocus Hondius whose pupil he may have been.

From about 1620 he designed a number of individual maps, including one of the British Isles, but his first atlas consisted of maps printed from plates bought from van den Keere and issued as they stood with some additions of his own, including historical scenes of battles and sieges for which he had a high reputation.

Some maps bear the latinized form of the family name: Piscator. After Visscher's death his son and grandson, both of the same name, issued a considerable number of atlases, constantly revised and brought up to date but most of them lacking an index and with varying contents.

The widow of Nicholaes Visscher II carried on the business until it finally passed into the hands of Pieter Schenk."

(Moreland & Bannister).