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The standard VOC navigation guide

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Stock number: 19247

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Claas Hendriksz Gietermaker


't Vergulde licht der zee-vaard, ofte konst der stuurlieden.

First Published

Amsterdam, 1660

This Edition





This Item is Sold


Gietermaker, who was the VOC's most influential trainer and examiner of new pilots for the VOC. Gietermaker's guide is prominent in all books and articles about VOC navigation.

His VOC pilot guide was first issued in 1660, the expanded version here is from 1757, by Johannes van Keulen II.

The title page has a portrait of the author, flanked by two goddesses with countless navigation instruments. At the bottom is a room where a navigation class is given.

The second part of the book has elaborate and detailed tables for sinus, tangents, secant and logarithmic tables to greatly facilitate accurate calculations and avoid errors in doing so. That title page is decorated with a naval battle.

Fun fact for Australia: the very last page of the book gives the table to calculate the tides for 0 - 12 degrees southern latitude (further south was not considered of bother, 12 degrees south is approximately present day Darwin).


Complete, which is unusual because most pilot guides were used at sea and are worn out. It has the original contemporary calf binding of 1757, even the ties to close the book are still intact. The volvelles are fully intact and in working order, and the folding plate with table for the sun's declination for every day of the year on the northern and southern hemisphere is complete and in good condition.

Traces of use for training pilots and has stamps of ownership and of decommission by the former Navigation School of Rostock, Hanseatic city in Germany. Very authentic look and feel.

The titles are somewhat weak imprints as often, this book was a workhorse for training and use on board of VOC ships, not a fancy book for armchair travelers.

Overall in excellent condition.

The Sailing School

Gietermaker noticeably changed nautical pedagogy by introducing model exams in his pilot guide, in the form of including endless examples of dialogues and practice questions, consisting of questions and answers between a captain and a navigator. Gietermaker effectively codified the format of the written examination for the ensuing century. In 1675 the VOC adopted a striking rule that not only navigators pass the exam, but so must its captains.

(Margaret Schotte)