Extremely rare English edition of Blaeu's 'Zeespiegel'
By BLAEU, Willem Janszoon , 1625

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: 1625.
  • Physical description: First edition in English, 3 parts bound in one volume (parts 2 and 3 containing 6 books each), folio (345 by 237mm), 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, with the blank y4 at end of part 2 and the leaf of directions to the binder at end of part 3, some light browning and dampstaining, repair to margin of chart 23, piece torn from margin of chart 57, split in chart 63, small piece torn from margin of charts 68 and 89, contemporary Dutch blind-stamped calf over wooden boards, sides panelled with ornamental rolls, including one of figures of Hope, Justice, Faith and Lucretia, loss to corners, lacking clasps, rebacked.
  • Inventory reference: 2278


This is the first 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.


William St. Quintin, bookplate; Harrison D. Horblit, bookplate.


  1. Koeman IV, M.Bl 48
  2. STC 3113
  3. NMM 62 (second English edition, 1635)
  4. Waters, 'The Art of Navigation in Elizabethan and Early Stuart Times', p.457.

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