Extremely rare English edition of Blaeu's 'Zeespiegel'
By BLAEU, Willem Janszoon , 1635

Sea Mirrour Containing a Briefe Instruction in the art of Navigation; and a Description of the Seas and Coasts of the Easterne, Northerne, and Westerne Navigation… Translated out of the Dutch into English, By Richard Hymers.

  • Author: BLAEU, Willem Janszoon
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: W. J. Blaeu
  • Publication date: 1635.
  • Physical description: Second edition in English, 3 parts bound in one volume (parts 2 and 3 containing 6 books each), folio (345 by 225mm), main and divisional titles with woodcut vignettes, 109 engraved maps, all but 3 double-page, numbered 1-108 with 51bis, 2 other smaller engraved charts in the text, 2 volvelles, woodcut diagrams and coastal profiles in the text, woodcut of ships on titles, the part-title to the fourth book of the second part from the 1625 edition, some light browning and dampstaining, chart 41 supplied, loss to left corner margin of chart 59 not effecting image skilfully repaired, volvelle on C4 lacking pointer, e3 with 90mm tear skilfully repaired, chart 85 with minor abrasions, contemporary vellum recased, some minor loss to spine, with title in manuscript.
  • Inventory reference: 11980


This is the second known English edition of Blaeu’s ‘Zeespiegel’, the charts being the same as those in the Dutch edition of 1623.

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 (109 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.


Bookplate of the famous bibliophile and Liberal politician Allan Heywood Bright (1862-1941).


  1. Koeman IV, M.Bl 49
  2. STC 3113
  3. NMM 62
  4. Waters, 'The Art of Navigation in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times', p.457.

Image gallery