Blaeu's rare 'Zeespiegel'
By BLAEU, Willem , 1627

Zeespiegel Inhoudende Een korte Onderwysinghe inde Konst Der Zeevaert En Beschryvinghe der Seen en Kusten van de Oostersche, Noordsche en Westersche Schipvaert.

  • Author: BLAEU, Willem
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: William Blaeu
  • Publication date: 1627.
  • Physical description: Three parts in one, folio (330 by 220mm), main title and three divisional titles, 110 charts, mostly double-page, a few, folding, single page, or within text, (lacking chart of the White Sea [56]), volvelle, numerous woodcut diagrams and coastal profiles within text, 'Haga Comitis 1642' in manuscript to title page, contemporary vellum, yapp fore-edges, contemporary manuscript title to spine.
  • Inventory reference: 1009


The ‘Zeespeigel’ was the second of Blaeu’s great pilot guides: the first, ‘Het Licht der Zeevaert’, was published in various editions and languages between 1608 and 1630. Blaeu’s copyright to this work appears to have run out in 1618, and from 1620 Johannes Janssonius was publishing his own counterfeit versions. Blaeu responded to this threat from his rival by publishing the present work in 1623. The new work covered much the same geographical area, i.e. the northern, eastern (the Netherlands to the White Sea) and western (the Netherlands to the Barbary Coast) navigations, however on a much larger scale and with more than twice the number of charts (111 compared to the Zeevaert’s 42).

Although the new pilot proved hugely successful and would continue to be published for the next 30 years, its practical application aboard ship accounts for its extreme rarity today. The present example, which is in remarkable condition, would appear never to have made it further than the gentleman’s library.

We are only able to trace three examples of the Zeespiegel coming up for auction in the past 30 years.


Once the property of the renowned numismatist, scholar, and member of the ‘Académie royale des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres’ T.E. Mionnet with his bookplate affixed to the upper paste-down.


  1. Koeman M.Bl 32
  2. Koeman, 'Blaeu and his Grand Atlas', p. 29
  3. Tiele, Nederlandsche Bibliographie, #124.

Image gallery