Schenk & Valk

Petrus Schenk (1660 – c1718) was “active as an engraver and publisher from the 1680s. His name appears on the title-page of Robijn’s Zee-Atlas of 1683 and three years later a joint privilege was granted to him and his partner Gerard Valk (1652-1726). Koeman refers to a later privilege granted in 1695 to copy Sanson’s maps, including a world map which Schenk was ready to print by 1696 or 1697” (Shirley).

Schenk was born in Germany but settled in Amsterdam in the “Globe Kaart en Konstwinkel” on the “Vijgendam”, where he became a pupil of the engraver Gerard Valk (1651-1726). In 1687, he married Valk’s sister Agatha. In 1694, Schenk and Valk acquired the plates for Johannes Janssonius’s Atlas Novus, which they reissued under their joint imprint. Schenk had three sons who all became engravers. The eldest son, Peter Schenk the Younger, also a cartographer, continued his father’s business in Liepzig. Younger sons, Jan and Leonard, remained in Amsterdam where they maintained the workshop established by their father. His daughter, Maria, married Leonard Valk (1675-1746), the son of Gerard, who continued his father’s workshop.

The Valk family firm was one of the most highly respected and enduring manufacturers of globes and maps in Europe. Gerard Valk, the family patriarch, apprenticed in London in the 1670s under the mapsellers David Loggan and Christopher Browne. Following his return to Amsterdam, in 1687, he formally established his own business, often working in concert with his brother-in-law, Petrus Schenk. Valk and Schenk would famously go on to produce an edition of Cellarius’s Harmonica Macrocosmica (1708). While Valk was initially known for his monumental wall maps, he was tutored in the exceedingly difficult craft of globe-making by Pieter Maasz Smit, who specifically praised Valk in his 1698 treatise on globe making.

In 1700, Valk moved his enterprise into the Amsterdam shop formerly occupied by the legendary Jocodus Hondius. Shortly thereafter, Valk published his own globe manual, ‘t Werkstellige der Sterrekonst, and issued the first pair of globes under his own name, at 12-inches in diameter. The Valk globes soon met with great acclaim, produced in a variety of issues: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18 and 24-inches in diameter. It was not long before the family captured a virtual monopoly of the globe market. Around 1711, Gerard’s son Leonard became a partner, and assumed control of the business following his father’s death in 1726. After Leonard’s death in 1746, globe production continued for a time under the auspices of Maria Valk. That same year, the company’s catalogue advertised a pair of 12-inch table globes, at a cost of 33 guilders. This was an immense sum, and indicative of the role of globes as true luxury items, geared to the intellectually sophisticated and culturally refined elite.