De Laet Map of the West Indies: 1630
Dutch West Indies Company
De Laet Caribbean Map
De Laet Caribbean Map De Laet Caribbean Map
Joannes de Laet (1593-1649) (editor)
Hessel Gerritsz (1580/81-1632) (cartographer and probably engraver)
Maiores Minores que Insulae Hispaniola, Cuba Lucaia et Caribes
fromBeschrijvinghe van West-Indiën
Leiden: 1630
Hand-colored engraving
12 x 15 inches, overall
11.25 x 14.25 inches, plate mark
Price on Request

An early 17th-century, historically important and influential map of the West Indies.  To the north, the peninsula of  Florida is shown, called Cabo dela Florida.  The map focuses on the Caribbean, including the Bahamas, Cuba, Jamaica (called Iamayca), Hispanolia -- comprised of the Dominican Republic and Haiti (called Spagnola), Puerto Rico, Caribbean Islands, Trinidad, and the northern coast of South America. Land masses are outlined in pink, green, yellow.   The title of the map is within a mannerist cartouche in the upper right corner, draped with fruit on a floral festoon; a compass rose is slightly below the islands center of the map.

Joannes de Laet and Hessel Gerritsz were director and chief cartographer, respectively, of the Dutch West Indies Company, giving them access to up-to-date geographical information. The Dutch West Indies Company had been established in 1621.  In 1625, de Laet published his initial version of Beschrijvinghe van West-Indiën to encourage trade and the establishment of colonies in North and South America.  The work met with enough success to be expanded and republished in 1630; it included maps as well as botanical, zoological and ethnographic illustrations and descriptions.  Latin and French translations followed in 1633 and 1640 respectively. Gerritsz contributed the maps.  He had previously worked for Willem Blaeu before becoming chief cartographer for the Dutch East Indies Company in 1617 and producing charts of the South Pacific for them. Gerritsz undertook a voyage to Brazil and the Caribbean in 1628-29 to see the New World for himself, unusual for a cartographer of that era.  For the charts of Florida published in the1630 edition, he made use of French and Spanish sources.  His work served as a model for later 17th-century maps produced by Blaeu, Janssonius and Sanson.

Condition: Generally very good, with the usual overall light toning, wear, soft creases.  Few short marginal tears and worm holes reinforced verso.  Thin laid paper as issued, with elaborate papermaker’s watermark.

References:

Ehrenberg, Ralph E.  “’Marvelous Countries and Lands’: Notable Maps of Florida, 1507-1846.”  Broward County Libraries.  (14 October 2004).

“Hessel Gerritsz, Florida et regiones vicinae.”  Bibliothèque Royale de Belgique. http://www.kbr.be/america/fr/fr27.htm (14 October 2004). 

“Joannes de Laet. L’histoire du Nouveau Monde...”  St. John’s College.  http://www.joh.cam.ac.uk/library/special_collections/early_books/pix/Laet.htm (14 October 2004).


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