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Sicily with 5 insets (Messina,Milazzo, Palermo, Catania (with view of the Etna), and Trapani, by Frederick de Wit, published by Covens & Mortier. c. 1715

Frederick de Wit (1630-1706)

The engraver and map-seller, Frederick de Wit, was born at Gouda (Netherlands) in 1630 as a son of Hendrick Fredericksz de Wit. Through his marriage with Maria van der Waag of Amsterdam in 1661, he obtained the citizenship of the city where he had been working since 1648 and where he became one of the most famous engravers of maps of the second half of the 17th century. Although De Wit was a Catholic, which meant that he was not favoured at the time by the city-council, he was awarded the honour of being listed as one of the "excellent citizen" on the roll of the city council in the years 1694-1704. His name was not written in the book of the Guild of St. Luke before 1664. At that time, he already lived on the Kalverstraat "in de Witte Pascaert", where he stayed until his death in 1706. The earliest dates on maps engraved by him are 1659 (Regni Daniae) and 1660 (Worldmap).

Frederick de Wit published a number of world atlases, a sea atlas, and an atlas of the Netherlands.

The dating of the maps is difficult. As a privilege was granted in 1689, the annotation 'cum privilegio' marks an edition after 1688.

Around 1700 Frederick de Wit entered the market with a town atlas. He produced two volumes with in total 260 plans and views. The majority of these were printed from plates used for the town atlases of Janssonius and Blaeu, respectively.

After his death in 1706, his widow continued the shop until 1709. The plates and stock of De Wit's atlas were sold to Covens & Mortier, in 1710, who sold the atlas for a long period.


Covens & Mortier. A Map Publishing House in Amsterdam. 1721-1866.

During almost two centuries, the largest and most important Dutch publishing house in commercial cartography was the Amsterdam firm of Covens & Mortier. Concerning quantity, it was possibly even the biggest contemporary map-trading house worldwide. They distributed innumerable maps, atlases, globes, and books.

Pieter (Pierre) Mortier (Leiden, 1661 – Amsterdam, 1711)

Nothing is known about the youth of Pieter Mortier. He studied in Paris from 1681 to approximately 1685. There he must have come into contact with French 'libraires' and learned the bookselling trade. Beginning 1685 he returned to Amsterdam where he opened a small bookshop. In the same year, he became a member of the Book, Art Sellers' and Printers' guild.

Pieter sold books in Dutch and foreign languages, but he also published books on his own, usually in the French language. His business flourished such that in 1688 he was already forced to rent another house on the Vijgendam.

Pieter Mortier's first privilege for maps was granted by the States of Holland and West Friesland on September 15 1690. It refers to the maps of Sanson that he 'is printing and correcting with great pains and care'.

Pieter began the large scale publication of maps and atlases. By the beginning of the 18th century, Pieter had become so wealthy that he could purchase three houses in Amsterdam: on the Beurssluis, on the Vijgendam, and the Heremietensteeg. He rebuilt the house on the Vijgendam into a large prestigious house that would serve for over a century as a shop, business, and residential structure for Covens & Mortier's publishing house.

He died on February 13, 1711, after a brief illness. The company continued to exist under Pieter's widow's management, Amelia' s-Gravesande.

After she died in 1719, her son Cornelis, took over the management for a few years.

On November 20, 1721, a company was founded by Cornelis Mortier and Johannes Covens I. The latter was married the same year with Cornelis's sister. From that year on, the name of :

Covens & Mortier.

Their firm would see a massive expansion in the next 140 years. In 1732 the heirs sold the property to their brother Cornelis and his partner Covens. Their main competitors were Reinier & Josua Ottens and Gerard Valck & Petrus Schenck. After the death of Johannes Covens I (1774), his son Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) entered the business. From 1778, Johannes added a new company name :

J. Covens & Son.

Johannes Covens II was succeeded by his son Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who, in turn, brought Peter Mortier IV, the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I, into the business. The name was from 1794 to 1866:

Mortier, Covens & Son.

The last Covens in the series was Cornelis Johannes Covens (1806-1880).

Covens & Mortier had a large stock of atlases and maps, including those of: Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. For decades, an impressive number of atlases came from the press.

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Regni et Insulae Siciliae.

€1500  ($1605 / £1275)
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Item Number:  28610
Category:  Antique maps > Europe > Italy
References: Dufour-La Gumina - p. 143

Old, antique map of Sicily with 5 insets (Messina, Milazzo, Palermo, Catania (with a view of the Etna), and Trapani, by Frederick de Wit, published by Covens & Mortier.

Title: Regni et Insulae Siciliae.
Typus Correctissimus ex Auctoribus et Relationubus Novissimis excerptus per F. de Witt.
Amstelodami Cum Privilegio Potent: DD. Ordin: Holl: Westfrisiaeq.
Amstelodami Apud Ioannem Covens et Cornelium Mortier.

Date: c. 1710

Copper engraving, printed on paper.
Map size: 495 x 585mm (19.49 x 23.03 inches).
Sheet size: 545 x 645mm (21.46 x 25.39 inches).
Verso: Blank.
Condition: Original coloured, excellent.
Condition Rating: A+.
References: Dufour-La Gumina - p. 143

From: Composite Atlas. Amsterdam, J. Covens & C. Mortier, c.1710.

Frederick de Wit (1630-1706)

The engraver and map-seller, Frederick de Wit, was born at Gouda (Netherlands) in 1630 as a son of Hendrick Fredericksz de Wit. Through his marriage with Maria van der Waag of Amsterdam in 1661, he obtained the citizenship of the city where he had been working since 1648 and where he became one of the most famous engravers of maps of the second half of the 17th century. Although De Wit was a Catholic, which meant that he was not favoured at the time by the city-council, he was awarded the honour of being listed as one of the "excellent citizen" on the roll of the city council in the years 1694-1704. His name was not written in the book of the Guild of St. Luke before 1664. At that time, he already lived on the Kalverstraat "in de Witte Pascaert", where he stayed until his death in 1706. The earliest dates on maps engraved by him are 1659 (Regni Daniae) and 1660 (Worldmap).

Frederick de Wit published a number of world atlases, a sea atlas, and an atlas of the Netherlands.

The dating of the maps is difficult. As a privilege was granted in 1689, the annotation 'cum privilegio' marks an edition after 1688.

Around 1700 Frederick de Wit entered the market with a town atlas. He produced two volumes with in total 260 plans and views. The majority of these were printed from plates used for the town atlases of Janssonius and Blaeu, respectively.

After his death in 1706, his widow continued the shop until 1709. The plates and stock of De Wit's atlas were sold to Covens & Mortier, in 1710, who sold the atlas for a long period.


Covens & Mortier. A Map Publishing House in Amsterdam. 1721-1866.

During almost two centuries, the largest and most important Dutch publishing house in commercial cartography was the Amsterdam firm of Covens & Mortier. Concerning quantity, it was possibly even the biggest contemporary map-trading house worldwide. They distributed innumerable maps, atlases, globes, and books.

Pieter (Pierre) Mortier (Leiden, 1661 – Amsterdam, 1711)

Nothing is known about the youth of Pieter Mortier. He studied in Paris from 1681 to approximately 1685. There he must have come into contact with French 'libraires' and learned the bookselling trade. Beginning 1685 he returned to Amsterdam where he opened a small bookshop. In the same year, he became a member of the Book, Art Sellers' and Printers' guild.

Pieter sold books in Dutch and foreign languages, but he also published books on his own, usually in the French language. His business flourished such that in 1688 he was already forced to rent another house on the Vijgendam.

Pieter Mortier's first privilege for maps was granted by the States of Holland and West Friesland on September 15 1690. It refers to the maps of Sanson that he 'is printing and correcting with great pains and care'.

Pieter began the large scale publication of maps and atlases. By the beginning of the 18th century, Pieter had become so wealthy that he could purchase three houses in Amsterdam: on the Beurssluis, on the Vijgendam, and the Heremietensteeg. He rebuilt the house on the Vijgendam into a large prestigious house that would serve for over a century as a shop, business, and residential structure for Covens & Mortier's publishing house.

He died on February 13, 1711, after a brief illness. The company continued to exist under Pieter's widow's management, Amelia' s-Gravesande.

After she died in 1719, her son Cornelis, took over the management for a few years.

On November 20, 1721, a company was founded by Cornelis Mortier and Johannes Covens I. The latter was married the same year with Cornelis's sister. From that year on, the name of :

Covens & Mortier.

Their firm would see a massive expansion in the next 140 years. In 1732 the heirs sold the property to their brother Cornelis and his partner Covens. Their main competitors were Reinier & Josua Ottens and Gerard Valck & Petrus Schenck. After the death of Johannes Covens I (1774), his son Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) entered the business. From 1778, Johannes added a new company name :

J. Covens & Son.

Johannes Covens II was succeeded by his son Cornelis Covens (1764-1825), who, in turn, brought Peter Mortier IV, the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I, into the business. The name was from 1794 to 1866:

Mortier, Covens & Son.

The last Covens in the series was Cornelis Johannes Covens (1806-1880).

Covens & Mortier had a large stock of atlases and maps, including those of: Delisle, Jaillot, Johannes Janssonius, Sanson, Claes Jansz. Visscher, Nicolaas Visscher, and Frederik de Wit. For decades, an impressive number of atlases came from the press.

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