By: Peter Schenck / Nicolaas Witsen
Date: 1696 (published) Amsterdam
Dimensions: 19.3 x 23 inches (49 x 58.5 cm)
This is an original color example of an important map of Asia published at the turn of the 18th century by Peter Schenck with important contributions from Nicolaas Witsen. The map is a blend of cartographic myths as well as new, accurate information previously unknown to Europeans.
Cartographic Knowledge and Misinformation in the Map
This map of Asia is abundant in detail from Anatolia and east Africa to the northern coast of Australia, the Philippines, and Japan. The map is colored by geo-political regions and includes the Ottoman, Persian, Mogul and Chinese Empires. Much of the foundational cartography was derived from Frederick de Wit's map of 1661, including the shapes of Korea, Japan and Yedso (Hokkaido), as well as the mythical Companies Landt.
The existence Companies Landt on maps holds significance as Vitus Bering would waste crucial time searching for during his second expedition of 1741 that lead to the Russian discovery for present-day Alaska. The time wasted searching for Companies Landt would play a key factor his unfortunate death, shipwrecked on the island that would later bare his name no more than 150 miles east of Kanchatka.
Other cartographic myths and inaccuracies show in the map include a large lake feeding the many rivers that run through southeast Asia, the Caspian Sea depicted in a horizontal fashion, and in the top right, an inset map shows a land bridge extending for northwest Asia due east without a defined end.
Contributions by Nicolaas Witsen
This map is a landmark for the cartographic information offered in the northern portion of the continent. Prior to his contribution, most maps of Asia offered little cartographic detail in Siberia and Tartaria. Nicolaas Witsen, whom this map is attributed to in the title cartouche was a Dutch statesman, cartographer, maritime writer, ship builder, and most importantly with regards to this map an expert on Russian affairs. In 1692, Witsen published the most comprehensive and authoritative work on Russia and northern Asia, Noord en Oost Tartarye and that information was extensively used in this map.
The Decorative Title Cartouche
The uncolored, yet striking, title cartouche demands attention, showcasing an array of Asian merchants, wealth, exotic plants and animals, alongside a junk ship. Such cartouches underscore the significance of the region during an era dominated by trade, particularly under the Dutch East India Company, which propelled Amsterdam to become one of the wealthiest cities in the world for much of the 17th century.
Condition: This map is in B+ condition presenting a beautiful impression heightened with original outline color and surrounded by full margins on all sides. As is common in maps with original color there are apparent breaks in the paper along green outline, all of which have been professionally reinforced with a full backing of Japanese tissue paper on the verso.
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