2 volumes. Folio (25 4/8 x 15 6/8 inches). 2 engraved allegorical frontispieces HEIGHTENED IN GOLD, and 175 EXCEPTIONALLY FINE double-page engraved charts ALL WITH ORIGINAL HAND-COLOUR IN FULL, including 19 folding ("Oost Indien" and first "West Indische Paskaert" cropped at upper edge, second "West Indische paskaert" cropped at lower edge, one or two maps backed on japan paper). Contemporary Dutch speckled calf gilt, each cover decorated with borders of gilt roll-tools with armillary sphere tools at each corner, and central medallion of Atlas carrying the world.
Provenance: each chart with manuscript title in French.
AN EXCEPTIONALLY RARE AND COMPLETE COPY, with only one other atlas with 160 charts to appear at auction in the last 30 years. With 175 charts, coastal profiles, and plates, and as such ONE OF THE LARGEST SEA ATLASES COMPILED BY THE HOUSE OF VAN KEULEN. An intermediate state between Koeman Keu 20B (dated 1695 and containing 160 charts) and Keu 28 (dated 1709 and containing 185 charts), of which this atlas shares 110 and 135 respectively.
Johannes van Keulen established himself in Amsterdam in 1678 and in 1680 he obtained a privilege from the States General of Holland and West Friesland allowing him to print and publish maritime atlases and shipping guides. This privilege, which protected against the illegal copying of printed material, was especially important for the cartographer's atlases, which were produced with extensive initial costs. Van Keulen named his firm "In de Gekroonde Lootsman" (In the Crowned Pilot), and began collaborating with cartographers Claes Janz Vooght and Johannes van Luyken. The firm would go on to become one of the most successful publishing firms in Amsterdam; and produce "the largest and finest marine atlases in Holland" (Koeman).
In this atlas the five navigational books are divided by large double-page folding maps rather than allegorical frontispieces. All of the 19 folding maps are rare, but of particular interest are the "West Indische Paskaert" (two copies) first issued by Willem Blaeu in ca 1630, and of landmark importance as the first "sea chart depicting North America on the Mercator projection" (Burden). The "Oost Indien" or chart of the East Indies is a particular rarity. It was first published by Pieter Goos in ca 1660, and extends from the Cape of Good Hope to Japan: "a complete survey of Dutch expansion in the East Indies and takes into account Tasman's two voyages of exploration" (Schilder).
Van Keulen's first atlas was his "Zee Atlas" with about 40 charts. "The culmination in the development of Dutch pilot books was reached with the publication of "De Nieuwe Groote Lichtende Zee-Fackel…" in 1681...The work was immediately recognized as superior to anything else on the market and enjoyed a considerable reputation for accuracy and detail" (Martin & Martin, 11). On the death of Joannes in 1704 the firm passed to his son, then his grandson, and on the death of Cornelis Buys van Keulen the name of the firm "was altered after much palaver into Gerard Hulsst van Keulen. The surviving son conducted the publishing business with more ambition than before. A considerable number of books appeared in the period 1778-1801. Greater activity was developed in the cartographic branch and new issues of the "Zee-Fakkel" again saw the light" (Koeman page IV 279).
Truusje Goedings, renowned expert in Dutch colourits of the 17th-century, writes of this copy: "Though we have no documents, the Van Keulen firm must have offered its atlases coloured. They introduced a decorative but less detailed, more economic and functional style of colouring for their marine-atlases, favouring a broad approach with an overall or extra large border colouring for the land-regions in flat but often very bright hues of mainly rosa, pink, light yellow and green , without specifying details such as mountains, woods etc.; watersurfaces were generally left blank. This style of colouring was brought to its height around 1700 and the years after by the firm of publisher and mapcolourist Anna Beek, who might be responsable for (part of the) colouring of this Van Keulen atlas.
"This copy is a fine and characteristic example of the Van Keulen style, including a de-luxe coloured titleprint heightened with gold. Very characteristic also for Van Keulen is the separate engraved plate with address printed under the image, which was generally coloured fully in bright pink or light yellow.
"The maps show large surfaces of pink, light yellow and green contrasted against the not painted paper-white of the sea-surfaces. Symbols for mountains, woods etc. are not treated with a detailed touch, but just integrated in the whole covering colour of the region. In this volume the colouring tone of the map is usually contrasted with a light transparant covering of the legends with umber and or transparant greyish blue. The figures around cartouches are fully coloured with more pigment in variaties of darker greens, pinks and reds. This all give the maps a well balanced character in a consistent style. Another characteristic relating to the pigments used in Van Keulen's atlases is the condition of the green, often copper green (Spanish green). Apart from showing through in vague brownish stains on verso, as very often in any old atlas, the green colours on the maps themselves have darkened to brown heavily. This shows the more where the green so often has been applied over large surfaces. The heavy browning must be due the a specific quality or mixture of the pigment originally favoured by Van Keulen. Both volumes have been coloured in the same style but probably not by the same hand. For instance, in vol. 2 more use has been made of varnish, and pink has been applied heavier.
"With its lavishly gilt title-prints, full colouring of the maps and gilt leather bindings this copy most probably was a de-luxe copy as offered by Van Keulen - so a de-luxe publisher's copy" (Truusje Goedings). Cf Koeman IV Keu 20B & Keu 28. Catalogued by Kate Hunter