Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Old books, maps and prints by Johannes Loots

Johannes Loots (1665/66-1726)

The publisher Johannes Loots was born in Amsterdam in 1665 or 1666. He lived on the Zeedijk and his profession was that of nautical instruments maker. His wife was Sara Swigters who, as we will see further on, was not without means. Both were Catholic. Around 1693, he opened a shop in the Nieuwebrugsteeg, In de Jonge Lootsman, the fifth house from the New Bridge, on the right hand side. This precise notation was important because two colleague-ship-chandlers lived on the same street: Johannes van Keulen, at the corner near the New Bridge In de gekroonde Lootsman and Hendrick Doncker, in the third house from the New Bridge, In ’t Stuurmans Gereedschap.

In the latter shop, Johannes Loots had served his apprenticeship as a maker of mathematical and nautical instruments. The Guild of Booksellers, after some hesitation, accepted him as a member on 5 May 1693. The first record of Johannes Loots’ activities as a chart publisher is dated 1 April 1695. In anotary contract of that date he made an agreement with the engraver Antoni de Winter for the cutting of a certain number of charts at their joint risk. Presumably: these charts were used for Loots’s first sea-atlas: Het nieu en compleet Paskaart Boek van de Noord en Oost Zee, 1697.

His partner, Antoni de Winter, behaved rather unfair because he associated himself, without the knowledge of Johannes Loots, with the land surveyor and mathematician, Claas de Vries in order to make a large sea-atlas composed of 150 charts with increasing latitudes. The notary contract, dated June 1696, stipulates that the atlas should be published at their joint risk and that the preparations should not be revealed to any person. But Loots did not remain ignorant of this project and on 6 April 1698 he joined the two partners in their undertaking. In the notary contract of that date the atlas project is then described as a chart book with ca. 200 maps, all on the Mercator projection.

A privilege for the planned atlas was granted on 2 July 1698 and the atlas was even advertised in the Amsterdamsche Courant of 28 August 1698; the large atlas as such, however, was never published. During 1698-1707, various quantities of maps have been sold as atlases but the complete work never appeared. The partnership was dissolved on 17 September 1707 at which occasion Claas de Vries sold his share in the copperplates to Gerard van Keulen, with charts of the Channel and one of the entrance of Hull harbour. The largest copies of Loots’s sea- atlas known are preserved in the Amsterdam University Library (124 charts) and in the Bibliotheque Nationale, (151 charts) but the latter contains only 75 charts published by Johannes Loots. Most of the charts must have been drawn by Claas de Vries between 1695-1707. They were excellent charts indeed, much better than the charts published by Loots after that date, when the rear-admiral Christoffel Middagten made his appearance as a chart maker. Another set of charts was printed from plates obtained from Jacob Robijn. During 1706-1717, Loots published charts of the Northern Navigation drawn by Middagten. These were not based on the Mercator projection (with one exception) and less correct in the outlines of coasts, etc. The rear-admiral also edited the text for Loots’ Nieuw Groot verbeterde Straats Zeeboek, 1723. In despite of strong competition (van Keulen, Doncker, Lootsman), Johannes Loots his shop prospered. This can be deduced from Loots’s purchase of a house on 29 October 1701. This house was situated at the Binnen Amstel and was sold for 3550 guilders. A large part of Loots’s revenues came from selling the famous manual on navigation: Schatkamer ofte Konst der Stuurlieden, by Claas de Vries, a revised edition of the book with the same title written by Abraham de Graaf. Apart from this textbook, various pilot guides were published by Johannes Loots. We find them listed in the inventory of the shop, drawn up after the death of Isaac Swigters in 1750. This inventory also lists a lot of 464 copperplates which gives us an idea of the extent of the chart trade. This figure is much higher than the number of charts known.

When Johannes Loots died in 1726, his wife Sara Swigters continued the business. She was assisted by her brother Isaac who had been a member of the Bookseller Guild since 1717. From 1726 on the books and charts sold carried the address: Sara Swigters, widow of Joannes Loots & Isaac Swigters. After the death of Sara Swigters in 1743, her brother continued with the shop until his death in 1750. The books were then sold to Johannes van Keulen and the charts to Joachim Hasebroek, successor of Jacob Robijn.


D. Gernez: Le libraire néerlandais Johannes Loots et sa maison d’éditions maritimes, published in Communications de l’académie de Marine de Belgique, Tome VIII, 1954, pp 23-71.

Cornelis Koeman. Atlantes Neerlandici (1967-71), Volume IV.

Johannes Loots maps for sale