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Van der Heijden, H.A.M,, The Oldest Map of the Netherlands: An Illustrated and Annotated Carto-bibliography of the 16th Century Maps of the XVII Provinces. Utrecht: HES Publishers, 1987. ISBN 90-6194-224-1. Illustrated, cloth.  (HES Publishers B.V., P.O. Box 129, 3500 AC Utrecht, Holland, Hfl. 95 plus postage)

This book deals with the earliest maps of the 17 provinces, which include today's Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.  A brief and helpful historical overview is followed by a detailed essay on early cartography in the Netherlands, with special emphasis on the early 16th century. This is followed by detailed descriptions and illustrations of 50 maps of the Netherlands, beginning with a 1526 map by Jan van Hoirne of Antwerp and ending an anonymous map from a book published by Jacob Cornelisz Vennecool. There is an engrossing discussion of a lost prototype map by Jacob van Deventer.  Some of what is known about early Dutch maps must be inferred from Italian derivatives. Sadly, one map, a unique example by Hieronymus Cock, is apparently still languishing in Florence, covered with mud, awaiting restoration 15 years after the flood.  Cock, it may be remembered, engraved the most beautiful map of the Americas.  Much investigation has gone into this book. The text is in English, but not by a native speaker.  Thus, there are a few unusual constructions, but the writing is better than most Americans could do, and quite clear.  A helpful touch is that Latin and Dutch titles are translated into English.  Though the book deals with Dutch maps, there are many side-issues of interest to general readers, i.e., connections between Dutch and Italian mapmakers, artistic aspects such as where cartouches come from, production methods, analyzing maps to determine the engraver, and more.  I think most collectors and dealers would find the book worthwhile.

David C. Jolly, 1988

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