One of the Earliest Maps of St. Thomas
"Nieuwe en Aldereerste Afteekening van 't Eyland St. Thomas. Met alle Desselfs Havenen, Anker Plaatse...", Keulen, Gerard van
Subject: St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Period: 1719 (dated)
Publication: De Groote Nieuwe Vermeerderde Zee Atlas ofte Water-Waereld
Color: Hand Color
39.3 x 23.4 inches
99.8 x 59.4 cm
This magnificent large-scale chart is one of the earliest available maps of St. Thomas. The primary map of the island is presented in graphic detail to show the topography, harbors, fortifications, plantations, soundings and navigation hazards. At right are two large plans of the principle harbors of St. Thomas and St. John with the Danish forts perched on hilltops with flags boldly displayed. Five land approach views extend across the bottom of the map. The chart is beautifully engraved and embellished with rhumb lines, sailing ships and compass roses. A cartouche crowning the distance scales dedicates the map to Erik Bredal, governor of the Danish West India Company.
Gerard Van Keulen was the son of Johannes Van Keulen, patriarch of perhaps the most prolific of all Dutch mapmaking families. The family firm commenced in 1680, but it was Gerard who brought it to its full glory in the 18th century. A talented engraver and mathematician, and later Hydrographer to the East India Company, Gerard became the mainspring of the business, issuing many important charts and books on all aspects of geography, navigation, etc. Until the opening of the Dutch Hydrographic Office in the 19th century, the Van Keulen firm issued what were regarded as the official Dutch sea charts.
A dark impression with light printer's ink residue, issued folding and now flattened. There are minor damp stains along the edges of the sheet that are entirely confined to the blank margins, and one short tear in the bottom blank margin that has been archivally repaired.