The Lootsman Family

One of the less well-known firms of chart makers and publishers working in Amsterdam, specialising in pilot books of European coastal waters, but who also published a sea atlas of the world. Their output of charts and chart-books deserves to be better known, as much of their work was original, rather than the slavish copies some of their better-known rivals produced.

Initially the Lootsmans operated in competition with Jacob Colom, then Hendrick Doncker, Pieter Goos, Hendrick Goos, and Jacob Robijn. However, a notarized document dated 29th May, 1680, suggests that they had been cooperating for some time. Their pilots, known as the Stiermans Zeespiegel, Lootsman’s Zeespiegel and Nieuwe Groote Zeespiegel, respectively, were at great risk from plagiarism by unqualified amateurs (a jibe at Johannes van Keulen). More alarming, the inaccuracies in these “new” charts would put navigators and their ships, who mistakenly relied on these counterfeits, in great peril. To protect them all, the signatories implored the States of Holland and West Friesland to grant them a “privilegio” for a period of 20 years for the printing and selling of their pilots, in all languages.

The privilege of 1680 had little effect in checking the rise of the van Keulen firm and by the start of the eighteenth century they dominated the Amsterdam chart business. This domination probably led Johannes Loots and Conijnberg to seek each other out. Their two 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).

Theunis (or Anthonie) Jacobsz (c1606 – 1650), was an Amsterdam-based maritime publisher who added Lootsman (pilot) to his name, to distinguish himself from other printers of the same name. He was born in 1606 or 1607, and in 1631 married Lijntje Robijns. They settled “op het Water, in de Lootsman tussen de Oude en Nieuwe brugh”. From about 1644, the business operated at the “Signe of the History of Josephus”. After his death in 1650, first his wife, and then his sons Jacob Theunisz Lootsman (died 1679) and Casparus (of Jasper) Theunisz Lootsman (1635-1711) continued the firm.

Casparus became a member of the Guild on 17 August 1665; one of the town’s printers in 1675; and after the death of his brother Jacob in 1679, entered into partnership with his nephew Jacob Conijnenberg, son of his sister, Jannetje. Conijnenbergh took over the firm in 1711, after Casparus’s death. Robijns died in 1689, and in 1692 her effects were sold, clearly including some of the firm’s inventory of “Seeboecken soo van de Ooster en Wester Scheepvaert, Middellantse See, in duyts, frans, engels ende andere talen”.