Set the standard for all future pilot guides
By BARENTSZ, Willem , 1609

Description de la Mer Mediterranee Auquel sont deliniees et descriptes au vif toutes les costes de la Mer Mediterrannee Commençant de Gibraltar le long de Granade, Valence, Cataloigne, Provence et Italiae, continuant par le Golfe Adriatique le long des costes de la Pulia, Venise, Istrie, Slavonie et Grece iusques a Constantinople, avec les pourtraicts des principaux ports, comme de Constantinople, de Tripoli, Jaffe, Alexandrie et plusieurs aultres. Avec les courses et estendues de toute icelle Mer, Pareillement y sont descriptes les Isles du Golfe de Venise, etc. Il y a aussi une particuliere description des Isles de Canarie et Madera. Le tout divisé par Cartes particulieres avec leur descriptions et apparitions de loing, le tout faict et descript avec grand travail et diligence, Par Guilliame Bernard, Pilote. 1609.

  • Author: BARENTSZ, Willem
  • Publication place: Amsterdam
  • Publisher: Corneille Nicolas Marchand
  • Publication date: 1609.
  • Physical description: Folio atlas (420 by 320mm), engraved title, with pasteover, nine double-page engraved charts, and one folding general chart, chart of Sicily trimmed to neatline, Medici library stamp to title, original limp vellum.
  • Inventory reference: 1130


The first pilot of the Mediterranean with printed charts.

Willem Barentsz’s chart book of the Mediterranean, first published in 1595, “Set the standard for all future pilot guides” (Koeman), and forms the logical next step to Waghenaer’s ‘Spieghel der Zeevaerdt’. Before 1595, the only printed description of the Mediterranean occured in Waghenaer’s ‘Thresoor der Zeevaert’, but without charts. Manuscript chartbooks of the Mediterranean – or portolans – drawn by Italian pilots were well known in the sixteenth century, and many of Barentsz’s charts bear resemblance to their work. It is debatable to what extent the Barentsz charts are derivative from these earlier maps, however one can be reasonably certain that the text and coastal profiles are original to the present work. At the rear of the atlas Barentsz added a text of an Italian portolan, translated into Dutch by Marten Eveart of Brugge. Comparison has proved that the translation was made from Paulo Grerado’s ‘Il Portolano del Mare…’, published in 1584.

Barentsz’s chartbook would continue to be the only pilot of the Mediterranean until Blaeu published the third part of his ‘Licht der Zeevaert’ in 1618. Although Blaeu’s work surpassed Barentsz’s in accuracy and detail, the charts themselves were subsequently reissued by Janssonius in 1626, and again with the plates heavily re-engraved in 1654.

Rare. We are unaware of another complete example coming up for sale in the last 30 years. Koeman only records one institutional copy of the present edition: that in Yale University Library, which lacks the general chart of the Mediterranean.


  1. Koeman 4C
  2. Yale, UUY 74, 607B.

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