400-Year-Old Atlas gifted to the Library

Published on
April 27, 2010

Through an intermediary, the Library has received a gift from Prof. Dr D.G. Jongmans from Rotterdam. The gift is an atlas factice, also called a composite atlas. The atlas contains three maps of the district water control boards of Rijnland, Delfland and Schieland by Floris Balthasars.

Starting in 1609, the surveyors and engravers Floris Balthasars and his son Balthasar Florisz. undertook both the drawing and engraving of maps. The maps of Delfland and Schieland appeared in print in 1611 and contained 9 and 13 leaves, respectively. The map of Rijnland was published in 1614-1615 in 20 leaves. Several leaves were later reworked, which means that the donated atlas can be dated to between 1623 and 1630.

The atlas fits well with the library’s collection of old polder and district water board maps. The collection was originally built for teaching surveying and agricultural engineering. Because of its scale and detail, the atlas gives a unique picture of the urbanization, activity and wealth of the county estates of Holland at the beginning of the 17th century.

The three survey maps in this atlas factice were originally made separately as commissions from the different district water boards. Several examples of the different maps still exist, some of which have been mounted as large wall maps. Only two other examples of the composite atlas are known, and all three atlases are missing their title pages and ornamental borders. For this reason, these composite atlases probably had more of an administrative function than a representative one. Moreover, the maps have been coloured in by hand, and because the map's place names or toponym have been touched up, these maps can be considered unique.

(newsletter 4-2010)