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Hudson Bay by Hessel Gerritz 1612

"This extremely rare map is the first to depict Hudson Bay. It is found in the first printed record of Henry Hudson's fourth and final voyage. The career of Hessel Gerritsz, although apprenticed to Willem Jansz. (Blaeu), flourished before that of his master's. Gerritsz became the official cartographer to the Dutch East India Company in 1617, and upon his death in 1632 this title passed to Blaeu.

Hudson had already made three accomplished voyages of discovery. The first two, in 1607 and 1608, were on behalf of the English Muscovy Company to find a possible North East Passage to China. The third, in the employ of the Dutch East India Company in 1609, led to the discovery of the river named after him. A group of English merchants employed him to follow up earlier attempts to find a North West Passage. Hudson had seen Captain George Weymouth's journal recording that during his 1602 voyage he had briefly entered what was to be Hudson Strait. In April 1610 Hudson set sail in the Discovery, the same ship that carried Weymouth, and after reaching Greenland eventually worked his way into 'a spacious sea' and discovered Hudson Bay. Heading south along the eastern shore they wintered at the southernmost point of James Bay. After a bitter and cruel winter the melting ice finally freed the ship in early June and a few days later the crew mutinied. The crew set adrift Hudson, his son and seven others in a small open top boat. They were never heard of again.

We have to thank one Abacuck Prickett for the survival of a map. Only eight men made it back to England in September 1611. Not one of them was ever punished. The map somehow made its way to Amsterdam where in 1612 Gerritz published the first account of the voyage. The printed map records Hudson's belief that he had found the Pacific Ocean with MARE MAGNUM. What at first glance looks like the western shore of Hudson Bay is in fact James Bay. It was in 1612 that this coast was traversed with the voyage of Thomas Button. The misconception of James Bay and its two large bays at the southern end would persist for decades to come.

The map was issued first in the Dutch edition and then again in the same year in a Latin version entitled Descriptio ac delineatio geographica detectionis Freti ... Each of these appears in two separate issues. The Latin edition was repeated in 1613, again in two distinct versions.
In 1613 Johann Theodore de Bry published the tenth part of his Petit Voyages. Included was a description of Hudson's voyage and a reduced version of this map." (Burden)

"Tabula Nautica, the most popular map of its day, sold as fast as Gerritsz could print copies. It was the first public account of what happened to Hudson, the first to show an outline of Hudson's Bay, and, most important, the first to indicate the location of the Northwest Passage. The Hudson chart revealed many things the English wished to keep secret and provided Europeans with the most exciting news since Columbus's voyage." (Douglas McNaughton)

"Contemporary sources concerning the outcome of the expedition are very scarce, while the original charts and logs were lost. Surprisingly, the most important account of the voyage is not given by an Englishman, but by the Amsterdam cartographer and publisher Hessel Gerritz (c.1580-1632). In his treatise Beschryvinghe vander Samoyeden Landt in Tartaryen a 'Tabula Nautica' with Hudson's discoveries has been included. It is the oldest depiction of the Hudson Bay region. The use of the English language for a large number of place names reinforces the impression that Hessel Gerritz disposed of the original chart by Hudson, carried away by the mutineers, or of a copy of this chart. Further investigation of its reliance is provided by the remarkably thourough exploration of the east coast of Hudson Bay, while the coast lines west of 'the bay of Goods merces' is not open to topographical interpretation.
It is not quite clear how Hessel Gerritz succeeded in laying hands on the result of Hudson's last desastrous voyage within such a short time. One has to suppose the involvement of his protector, Plancius, to whom the material was passed by way of Richard Hakluyt Jr., the English publisher of travel reports, or Emanuel van Meteren (1535-1612), the well known Dutch historiographer who lived in London. ..." (Schilder)

"This map serves as the foundation piece to Canada's basic economic history. It served as the only function chart to the northern regions of Canada for several decades, and enabled the successful establishment of the Hudson Bay Company which was to dominate trade, exploration and the economic development of Canada for a long period of time." (Kershaw)


Hessel Gerritsz. (1580/81 – 1632)

Hessel Gerritsz. was one of the most influential and innovative map makers of the seventeenth century. He was born in Assum in North Holland and went to school in Alkmaar. He must have known Willem Jansz. (= Willem Blaeu) who stayed in Alkmaar for several years. Later he moved to Amsterdam for his further education.
After the closing of the Scheldt River, Amsterdam’s competitor was cut off, so that Amsterdam was able to take over the function of world trade centre. Flourishing Amsterdam offered plenty of work and exercised a great attraction for the craftsmen from the Southern Netherlands. The two dominating publishers in the cartographical field were Cornelis Claesz. and Jodocus Hondius both from the Southern Netherlands. Hessel Gerritsz. was trained in the graphic trade by David Vingboons, a painter and artist who also came from the Southern Netherlands.
After his apprenticeship with David Vingboons, Hessel Gerritsz. continued his schooling in the publishing house of Willem Jansz. (Blaeu). There he was able to perfect his etching style and was given the mathematical skills which would be so useful to him later, and he learnt the trade of mapmaking. Together with the engraver Josua van den Ende he was responsible for the engraving of the superb wall map of the Seventeen Provinces (1608). Van den Ende engraved the map image while Hessel Gerritsz. took care of the decorative borders and the decorations on the main map.
During his activities for Willem Jansz. Hessel Gerritsz. not only perfected his etching and engraving style but received the geographical and mathematical education which would stand him in good stead in later years. He could wish for no better cartographical school. Blaeu’s workshop was a sort of repository where geographical information from all parts of the world came together.
Hessel Gerritsz. married in 1607 to Geertje Gijsbertdr. One of his children, Gerrit, born in 1609, was to follow in his father’s footsteps. Shortly after his marriage, he established himself as an independent engraver, mapmaker and printer.
Hessel Gerritsz. regularly worked with Claes Jansz. Visscher as well. They co-operated for a long time.
His artistic talent comes to the fore in his map of the Leo Belgicus, depicting the Seventeen Provinces in the shape of a lion. This was seen as a symbol of the courage and persistence of the Dutch provinces in their resistance against Spanish tyranny.
In the years 1612-13 Hessel Gerritsz. was intensively busy with publications about Russia. In 1612, the influential booklet Beschryvinghe vander Samoyeden Landt appeared by him. The two chapters about Siberia were provided by Isaac Massa, who had lived in Moscow for nine years. With the aid of original Russian material Gerrritsz. was able to produce a series of three maps in folio format: a map of Russia and town plans of Moscow and the Kremlin. He also made a new important wall map of Lithuania and engraved it on four plates for Willem Blaeu. In the meantime, he also made a wall map and a folio map of Spain.
Next to these works undertaken on his initiative, Hessel Gerritsz. also accepted engraving and publishing tasks for third parties.
In 1617, Hessel Gerritsz. published a large wall map of Italy in six sheets. He gave his wall map an extra cachet by extending the map image with town views and costumed figures. The map was copied shortly after publication by Willem Blaeu. To protect himself against such plagiarism in the future, he requested a patent from the States-General. In January 1618, they granted him a general license in which amongst other things it was forbidden in any way to reproduce, copy or distribute his maps, both written or printed.
Hessel Gerritsz. was so highly regarded in 1617, that he received such an extraordinary privilege. He was appointed as instructor in geography for the Councillors of the Admiralty at Amsterdam and as mapmaker for the Chamber Amsterdam of the VOC. With both appointments, his old employer Willem Blaeu was passed over. In his function of mapmaker of the VOC, he was able to improve and expand the charts for the navigation to and from the Indies. The chart maker, of course, did not draw the charts needed for the VOC ships himself. He manufactured specific prototypes, the so-called leggers, (master charts) which served as models for copying work by his assistants in his house.

At the beginning of September 1632, Hessel Gerritsz. died at the age of 52. He must be considered one of the most comprehensive map makers of his time. “He was multi-disciplined in his method of working, integrating graphical technique and artistic expression in his scientific approach. Because of his mathematical talent, he was able to solve nautical problems and make proposals about them. His exceptional network – the interviews with pilots from the diverse companies, as well as his correspondence with persons at home and abroad – supplied him with a huge amount of geographical and nautical information that he used most efficiently. His good contacts with the families of the great merchants and ship owners and the representatives of the influential regents opened doors for him. He was, without doubt, the most informed person in geographical matters in Amsterdam of his time.” (Schilder)

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Tabula Nautica, qua repraesentantur orae maritimae, meatus, ac freta, noviter a H. Hudsono Anglo ad Caurum supra Novam Franciam indagata Anno 1612.

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Item Number:  5599
Category:  Antique maps > America > North America

Old, antique map of the Hudson Bay by Hessel Gerritz.

Copper engraving
Size: 24 x 52cm (9.4 x 20.3 inches)
Verso: Blank
Condition: Small repair at fold with a bit of reinstatement (5mm), else excellent.
Condition Rating: B
References: Burden, 162, State 1: With the two lines of text running along the 360° meridian; Schilder 3, p.201 - Afb.3.112; Kershaw I, 53a.

From: Beschryvinghe van der Samoyeden landt in Tatarien. 1612

"This extremely rare map is the first to depict Hudson Bay. It is found in the first printed record of Henry Hudson's fourth and final voyage. The career of Hessel Gerritsz, although apprenticed to Willem Jansz. (Blaeu), flourished before that of his master's. Gerritsz became the official cartographer to the Dutch East India Company in 1617, and upon his death in 1632 this title passed to Blaeu.

Hudson had already made three accomplished voyages of discovery. The first two, in 1607 and 1608, were on behalf of the English Muscovy Company to find a possible North East Passage to China. The third, in the employ of the Dutch East India Company in 1609, led to the discovery of the river named after him. A group of English merchants employed him to follow up earlier attempts to find a North West Passage. Hudson had seen Captain George Weymouth's journal recording that during his 1602 voyage he had briefly entered what was to be Hudson Strait. In April 1610 Hudson set sail in the Discovery, the same ship that carried Weymouth, and after reaching Greenland eventually worked his way into 'a spacious sea' and discovered Hudson Bay. Heading south along the eastern shore they wintered at the southernmost point of James Bay. After a bitter and cruel winter the melting ice finally freed the ship in early June and a few days later the crew mutinied. The crew set adrift Hudson, his son and seven others in a small open top boat. They were never heard of again.

We have to thank one Abacuck Prickett for the survival of a map. Only eight men made it back to England in September 1611. Not one of them was ever punished. The map somehow made its way to Amsterdam where in 1612 Gerritz published the first account of the voyage. The printed map records Hudson's belief that he had found the Pacific Ocean with MARE MAGNUM. What at first glance looks like the western shore of Hudson Bay is in fact James Bay. It was in 1612 that this coast was traversed with the voyage of Thomas Button. The misconception of James Bay and its two large bays at the southern end would persist for decades to come.

The map was issued first in the Dutch edition and then again in the same year in a Latin version entitled Descriptio ac delineatio geographica detectionis Freti ... Each of these appears in two separate issues. The Latin edition was repeated in 1613, again in two distinct versions.
In 1613 Johann Theodore de Bry published the tenth part of his Petit Voyages. Included was a description of Hudson's voyage and a reduced version of this map." (Burden)

"Tabula Nautica, the most popular map of its day, sold as fast as Gerritsz could print copies. It was the first public account of what happened to Hudson, the first to show an outline of Hudson's Bay, and, most important, the first to indicate the location of the Northwest Passage. The Hudson chart revealed many things the English wished to keep secret and provided Europeans with the most exciting news since Columbus's voyage." (Douglas McNaughton)

"Contemporary sources concerning the outcome of the expedition are very scarce, while the original charts and logs were lost. Surprisingly, the most important account of the voyage is not given by an Englishman, but by the Amsterdam cartographer and publisher Hessel Gerritz (c.1580-1632). In his treatise Beschryvinghe vander Samoyeden Landt in Tartaryen a 'Tabula Nautica' with Hudson's discoveries has been included. It is the oldest depiction of the Hudson Bay region. The use of the English language for a large number of place names reinforces the impression that Hessel Gerritz disposed of the original chart by Hudson, carried away by the mutineers, or of a copy of this chart. Further investigation of its reliance is provided by the remarkably thourough exploration of the east coast of Hudson Bay, while the coast lines west of 'the bay of Goods merces' is not open to topographical interpretation.
It is not quite clear how Hessel Gerritz succeeded in laying hands on the result of Hudson's last desastrous voyage within such a short time. One has to suppose the involvement of his protector, Plancius, to whom the material was passed by way of Richard Hakluyt Jr., the English publisher of travel reports, or Emanuel van Meteren (1535-1612), the well known Dutch historiographer who lived in London. ..." (Schilder)

"This map serves as the foundation piece to Canada's basic economic history. It served as the only function chart to the northern regions of Canada for several decades, and enabled the successful establishment of the Hudson Bay Company which was to dominate trade, exploration and the economic development of Canada for a long period of time." (Kershaw)


Hessel Gerritsz. (1580/81 – 1632)

Hessel Gerritsz. was one of the most influential and innovative map makers of the seventeenth century. He was born in Assum in North Holland and went to school in Alkmaar. He must have known Willem Jansz. (= Willem Blaeu) who stayed in Alkmaar for several years. Later he moved to Amsterdam for his further education.
After the closing of the Scheldt River, Amsterdam’s competitor was cut off, so that Amsterdam was able to take over the function of world trade centre. Flourishing Amsterdam offered plenty of work and exercised a great attraction for the craftsmen from the Southern Netherlands. The two dominating publishers in the cartographical field were Cornelis Claesz. and Jodocus Hondius both from the Southern Netherlands. Hessel Gerritsz. was trained in the graphic trade by David Vingboons, a painter and artist who also came from the Southern Netherlands.
After his apprenticeship with David Vingboons, Hessel Gerritsz. continued his schooling in the publishing house of Willem Jansz. (Blaeu). There he was able to perfect his etching style and was given the mathematical skills which would be so useful to him later, and he learnt the trade of mapmaking. Together with the engraver Josua van den Ende he was responsible for the engraving of the superb wall map of the Seventeen Provinces (1608). Van den Ende engraved the map image while Hessel Gerritsz. took care of the decorative borders and the decorations on the main map.
During his activities for Willem Jansz. Hessel Gerritsz. not only perfected his etching and engraving style but received the geographical and mathematical education which would stand him in good stead in later years. He could wish for no better cartographical school. Blaeu’s workshop was a sort of repository where geographical information from all parts of the world came together.
Hessel Gerritsz. married in 1607 to Geertje Gijsbertdr. One of his children, Gerrit, born in 1609, was to follow in his father’s footsteps. Shortly after his marriage, he established himself as an independent engraver, mapmaker and printer.
Hessel Gerritsz. regularly worked with Claes Jansz. Visscher as well. They co-operated for a long time.
His artistic talent comes to the fore in his map of the Leo Belgicus, depicting the Seventeen Provinces in the shape of a lion. This was seen as a symbol of the courage and persistence of the Dutch provinces in their resistance against Spanish tyranny.
In the years 1612-13 Hessel Gerritsz. was intensively busy with publications about Russia. In 1612, the influential booklet Beschryvinghe vander Samoyeden Landt appeared by him. The two chapters about Siberia were provided by Isaac Massa, who had lived in Moscow for nine years. With the aid of original Russian material Gerrritsz. was able to produce a series of three maps in folio format: a map of Russia and town plans of Moscow and the Kremlin. He also made a new important wall map of Lithuania and engraved it on four plates for Willem Blaeu. In the meantime, he also made a wall map and a folio map of Spain.
Next to these works undertaken on his initiative, Hessel Gerritsz. also accepted engraving and publishing tasks for third parties.
In 1617, Hessel Gerritsz. published a large wall map of Italy in six sheets. He gave his wall map an extra cachet by extending the map image with town views and costumed figures. The map was copied shortly after publication by Willem Blaeu. To protect himself against such plagiarism in the future, he requested a patent from the States-General. In January 1618, they granted him a general license in which amongst other things it was forbidden in any way to reproduce, copy or distribute his maps, both written or printed.
Hessel Gerritsz. was so highly regarded in 1617, that he received such an extraordinary privilege. He was appointed as instructor in geography for the Councillors of the Admiralty at Amsterdam and as mapmaker for the Chamber Amsterdam of the VOC. With both appointments, his old employer Willem Blaeu was passed over. In his function of mapmaker of the VOC, he was able to improve and expand the charts for the navigation to and from the Indies. The chart maker, of course, did not draw the charts needed for the VOC ships himself. He manufactured specific prototypes, the so-called leggers, (master charts) which served as models for copying work by his assistants in his house.

At the beginning of September 1632, Hessel Gerritsz. died at the age of 52. He must be considered one of the most comprehensive map makers of his time. “He was multi-disciplined in his method of working, integrating graphical technique and artistic expression in his scientific approach. Because of his mathematical talent, he was able to solve nautical problems and make proposals about them. His exceptional network – the interviews with pilots from the diverse companies, as well as his correspondence with persons at home and abroad – supplied him with a huge amount of geographical and nautical information that he used most efficiently. His good contacts with the families of the great merchants and ship owners and the representatives of the influential regents opened doors for him. He was, without doubt, the most informed person in geographical matters in Amsterdam of his time.” (Schilder)