Johannes Loots

(1665 - 1726)

Loots was originally a nautical instrument maker, who worked in the same street as Johannes van Keulen and Hendrick Doncker. In the 1680s he served as an apprentice to Doncker. He was accepted into the Guild of Booksellers in 1693 and began publishing charts and atlases under his own name, flourishing in the competitive sea chart trade of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Loots published several sea atlases and separately issued charts.

The rise of the van Keulen firm who, by the start of the eighteenth century, dominated the Amsterdam chart business, probably led Loots to combine forces with Claes de Vries and Antoni de Winter produce sea charts on a Mercator Projection, however the venture had foundered by 1707, with many of their plates being sold to van Keulen.

After Jacob Robijn’s death, sometime between 1707-1717, the plates for his edition of Arent Roggeveen’s pilot, Het Brandende Veen – The Burning Fen, passed into Loots’s hands. He added his imprint to the majority of the charts and published an English edition in 1717.

At this point he was possibly approached by Jacob Conijnberg, nephew of Caspar and Jacob Lootsman, and publisher of an English edition of their Zee-Spiegel. Their respective works, one covering the English coast, and the other the east coast of America, would, when combined, form a rudimentary “fifth book” (i.e. covering the navigation from England to the New World). They must have assumed that the work would find a ready market in London; however, not only were the charts by this time at least forty years out of date, but also the London publishers Mount and Page had by this time obtained a similar market dominance to the one enjoyed by the van Keulens in Amsterdam. These factors must have hampered the project’s success, and when combined with the high mortality rate of sea pilots, lead to its extreme rarity.

The inventory of Loots’s shop included four hundred and sixty-four copperplates, a figure much larger than the actual number of printed maps known.