A sumptuously presented 'Zee-fackel' from the library of F.C. Koch
By KEULEN, Johannes van , 1682

De Nieuwe Groote Lichtende Zee-Fackel Behelsende ‘t Eerste, ‘t Tweede, ‘t Darde, ‘t Vierde, Vijfde of ‘t Laetste Deel … beschruvinge, van alle bekende Haavens … door J. van Loon, en C.J. Vooght.

  • Author: KEULEN, Johannes van
  • Publication place: t'Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Gedruckt by Johannes van Keulen, Boeck en Zee-Kaart-Verkooper, aen de Oost-zyde van de Nieuwe-Brugh, in de Gekroonde Lootsman
  • Publication date: [1682]–1689.
  • Physical description: Folio (555 by 340mm), five parts in one volume, Dutch text, printed general title, dated 1689, engraved allegorical titles (after Johannes van Luyken) in Parts I, II, and V, second allegorical title tipped-in to size at foot, dedication and address to reader, and 137 double-page engraved mapsheets in fine contemporary hand-colour, several heightened with gold, numerous woodcut coastal profiles and smaller detail charts in the text also hand-coloured, small hole in one chart, occasional offsetting or slight browning, original publisher's vellum, panelled in gilt with foliate roll-tooled border, corner pieces, central gilt foliate device incorporating armillary sphere, gilt edges.
  • Inventory reference: 1023


Johannes van Keulen established himself in Amsterdam in 1678 and, in 1680, he obtained a privilege from the States General of Holland and West Friesl and allowing him to print and publish maritime atlases and shipping guides. This privilege, which protected against the illegal copying of printed material, was especially important for the cartographer’s atlases, produced with extensive initial costs. Van Keulen named his firm “In de Gekroonde Lootsman” (“In the Crowned Pilot”), and began collaborating with cartographers Claes Jansz. Vooght and Johannes van Luyken. In 1681 the ‘Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel’ appeared, a five volume atlas for which Vooght compiled the maps and which was illustrated by Johannes van Luyken. The ‘Zee-Fakkel’ made Johannes van Keulen famous and was published in five volumes between 1681 and 1684, with over 130 new charts. Van Keulen’s son, Gerard van Keulen (1678–1726), continued his work and produced new editions of the various volumes. His grandson, Johannes II van Keulen (1704–1755), published a new edition of the volume, with maps of Asian waters, in 1755. The lineage of mapmakers saw yet another member of the Van Keulen legacy with great-grandson Gerard Hulst van Keulen (1733–1801), who occupied himself with the last editions of the ‘Zee-Fakkel’.

The atlas is justly famous for its fine vignettes, mostly by van Luyken, depicting regional costume, customs, flora and fauna. Geographically, the ‘Zee-Fackel’ is of particular interest for its mapping of the Americas. It includes detailed charts of Dutch interests in Surinam, Guiana, and the Caribbean, a large-scale and hopelessly inaccurate chart of the Bahamas, and one of the earliest obtainable coastal charts of New England: a detailed chart of Cape Cod, including, curiously, a palm tree-inspired cartouche. Further, Van Keulen was one of the first chartmakers to incorporate Augustine Hermann’s landmark mapping of the Chesapeake from 1673, even to the extent of utilizing Hermann’s symbols for the plantations along the bay and various rivers.
The atlas is also noteworthy for its coverage of the Archangel and the White Sea, which reflects the growth of Dutch trade and interest in the region during the mid to late seventeenth century.

The contents of the present example correspond closely with that of the 1689 atlas in the Maritime Museum in Rotterdam and collates as follows:

— Part I: Northern Europe and the Arctic Circle; 33 charts, Koemam 34B including the world map by de Wit (Shirley 444, 1st state) and 32 charts of Northern Europe.
— Part II: Western Europe; 39 charts, Koeman 58B, including the additional map ‘Paskaarte van de Zuyder-zee met alle des Zels inkomende Gaaten …’ which Koeman first records as appearing in the edition of 1704 (Koeman, Keulen 64).
— Part III: Mediterranean; 17 charts, Koeman 87C.
— Part IV: North America and the West Indies; 24 charts, Koeman 109C with the addition of one map from part V: ‘Pascaarte van de Noorder Zee custen van America’.
— Part V: Africa and South America, the East Indies and the Pacific; 23 charts, Koeman 123C.


Bookplate of F.C. Koch, a famous Dutch book collector and historian whose library was sold at auction by Hauswedell and Nolte in Hamburg in 1974.


  1. Koeman, Keu 34B, 58B, 87C, 109C, 123C
  2. Papenfuse, Edward C. and Joseph M. Coale III, The Maryland State Archives Atlas of Historical Maps of Maryland 1608–1908, Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2003, p. 25.

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