Extremely rare over-sized sea chart of the Baltic, published by Johannes Loots.
Loots chart of the Baltic Sea extends from Copenhagen and Rostock in the west, to Wyborg, Narva and Ryga in the east, showing the region in exceptional detail, including soundings, anchorages and many other details. The chart is among the most detailed and accurate sea charts of the region, almost certainly drawing on the surveys of Peter Gedda, published in 1694 by Jacobus Robijn, which Loots had pirated in 1697. As noted by Tooley "Whereas land maps once made tended to remain static till a new type appeared, sea charts were constantly revised, either in small particulars or large areas, a fact that makes their study most absorbing."
In the upper left, a reference is made to the changing variation of the magnetic compass in the area depicted. It also refers to the Dutch custom of manufacturing "normal" compasses (compass card magnets and North pointer lined-up) and also those used for the local area close to Holland, where the north pointer was off-set from the compass card by a fixed amount (half a point), allowing the user to steer a truer course directly on the magnetic compass. The Dutch also used compasses with an adjustable off-set to be able to adjust the compass variation off-set to the values established en-route. (We wish to thank Hans Kok, co-author of
Sailing for the East, History & Catalogue of Manuscript Charts on Vellum of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) 1602-1799, for providing the information and translation).
While Loots, in his lifetime, was a prolific chart maker, very few of his charts have survived to modern times, almost certainly because the vast majority of the charts were used by mariners at sea.
Johannes Loots (1665 - 1726) was a publisher of sea charts who was active from the 1693 until his death in 1726. Loots began his career as an apprentice to Hendrick Doncker and later set up his own shop on Nieuwebrugsteeg in Amsterdam,in 1693. Between 1695 and 1698, Loots, Claes de Vries (a surveyor-cartographer) and Antoni de Winter (an engraver), entered into a joint venture to produce 200 sea charts on a Mercator Projection (Van Keulen Cartography, p 46). The plans were advertised in the Amsterdamsche Courant in August and October 1698, and several charts offered separately. However, the venture only produced 120 charts (Van Keulen Cartography, p. 47), and the partnership dissolved in 1707, with Claas de Vries selling at least 17 charts, including 16 large plates of the English Channel and a smaller plate of the Hull River, to Gerard Van Keulen on September 24, 1707 (for 374 guilders) (Van Keulen Cartography, p. 16).
In 1696, Loots published a pirated group of charts of the Baltic, originally published by Swedish chart maker Peter Gedda in 1694. Loots published the Gedda charts under the name Paskaertboek van de Noord-en Oost-zee. Gedda would later file suit against Loots to block the publication. It would seem probable that the present chart was derived from the information first published by Gedda, although the map does not appear to be one of the pirated charts.
In 1707, Loots sold 100 charts on a Mercator Projection to Gerard Van Keulen. In 1707, Loots would appear to have purchased the plates of Jacob Robijn, which included the charts originally engraved by Arent Roggeveen for his Burnng Fen. These include a rare set of charts of the North American and Caribbean Coastlines, which were a significant improvement over the contemporary sea charts issued by Van Loon and Goos (for whom Roggeveen had originally made the charts). At some point, he or his widow must have re-acquired the plates, as his widow and her brother, Isaac Swigerts, continued to publish later editions of some of the charts until 1750, when Swigerts, sold the remainder of the Loots charts to Johannes Van Keulen II. These plates were re-engraved to include the Van Keulen name thereafter. At the time of his death, the inventory notes that the inventory of Isaac Swigters estate includes 10,816 various maps, presumably, his unsold inventory.
During the life of Loots sea charts, it is known that some of the charts were copied by both Seller and Grierson.
While an inventory of Loots shop included 464 copperplates, the number of plates known to have been published by Loots is far fewer and it would appear that this inventory included multi-plate charts and non-cartographic material.
Loots' charts are extremely rare on the market. In 2011, when we acquired a group of approximately 10 charts and chart fragments from a small working atlas of Loots, AMPR recorded total of only 5 records of Loots charts offered for sale at auction or dealer catalogues in the prior 30 years.