Johannes Van Keulen (1654 - 1711)
The Dutch produced a remarkable number of enterprising and prolific map and chart makers but not even the Blaeu and Jansson establishments could rival the vigour of the van Keulen family whose business was founded in 1680 and continued under their name until 1823 and in other names until 1885 when it was finally wound up and the stock dispersed at auction. Throughout the history of the family, the widows of several of the van Keulens played a major part, after their husbands' deaths, in maintaining the continuity of the business.
The firm was founded by Johannes van Keulen who was registered as a bookseller in Amsterdam in 1678. In 1680 he published the first part of his Zee Atlas which, over the years, was expanded to 5 volumes and continued in one form or another until 1734. More ambitious and with a far longer and more complicated life was his book of sea charts, the Zee-Fakkel, published in 1681-82 which was still being printed round the year 1800. A major influence in the development of the firm was the acquisition in 1693 of the stock of a rival map publisher, Hendrik Doncker.
Although the firm was founded by Johannes van Keulen, he was primarily a publisher; it was his son, Gerard, a talented engraver, mathematician, Hydrographer to the East India Company, who became the mainspring of the business which not only published charts but also books on every aspect of geography, navigation and nautical matters.
Below is a very brief detail of the issues of the Zee Atlas and Zee-Fakkel.
De Groote Nivuwe Wermeerderde Zee Atlas ofte Water-werelt Between these years the Zee Atlas was published in about 34 editions with text in Dutch, French, English and Spanish: the number of maps varied from as few as 25 to a peak of 185 in 1707-08. Generally the size was approximately 540-550 x 340-350 mm although in 1706, 1710, 1718 and 1734 Gerard van Keulen issued editions with maps enlarged to about 600 x 1,000 mm
De Nieuwe Groote Lichtende Zee-Fakkel Le Nouveau & Grand Illuminant Flambeau de la MerThe Lightning Columne or Sea Mirrour La Nuevay Grande Relumbrante Antorcha d Ia MarDella nuova e grande Illuminante
Face del Mare Part 1 (168i) North Sea and Baltic
Part II (1681) North Sea, the Channel, Coasts of England, Portugal and Spain
Part 111(1682) Mediterranean
Part IV (1684) West Indies and Eastern Seaboard of North America
Part V (1683) Atlantic coasts of Africa and Brazil (in later editions, charts of the Indian Ocean)
Part VI (1753) Indian Ocean and Far East Average size: 500-520 x 580-590 mm:
Some editions incorporated larger charts - 600 x 1,000 mm In all there were over 120 editions of the Zee-Fakkel with text in Dutch, French, English (1716, one edition of Parts 1 and III only), Spanish and Italian. The original charts were compiled by Claes Janszoon Vooght and frequently only his name appears, even on the atlas title pages. In later years, especially under the direction of Gerard van Keulen and his sons, the charts were constantly revised and increased in number. Until the founding of the Dutch Hydrographic Office in 1856 they were regarded as the 'official' Dutch sea charts