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Images of East and West - Introduction

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The present microfiche collection reproduces the atlases, maps, charts, drawings, views and other visual documents contained in the "Collection of Foreign Maps, 16th-19th Centuries" ("Verzameling buitenlandse kaarten"), inventoried by P.A. Leupe in 1867 and its supplement inventoried by S.P. l'Honoré Naber in 1914, kept in the Department of Maps and Drawings (Afdeling Kaarten en Tekeningen) of the General State Archives of the Netherlands (Algemeen Rijksarchief) at The Hague. The collection is known by the code letters VEL and VELH (the supplement) and these designations have been used in the microfiche edition and in this guide.

The documents contained here belong to the archives of the following Dutch colonial or governmental organizations:

  • Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) (East India Company), 1602-1796
  • Westindische Compagnie (WIC) (West India Company), 1621-1791
  • Staten Generaal (States-General)
  • Staten van Holland (States of Holland)
  • Directie van Berbice, Essequibo en Demarara, 1720-1795
  • Sociëteit van Suriname, 1680-1795
  • Various government archives, 1795-1813 (Departementen van Koloniën, Buitenlandse Zaken)
  • J.C. Heneman (cartographer of the Sociëteit van Suriname), ca. 1740-1806
  • J.G. Loten (governor of Ceylon), 1710-1789

The collection contains 39 (mostly nautical) atlases ("zeeatlassen") and map books and approximately 3,700 loose maps, charts, views and other drawings. These documents have been reproduced on 1,519 microfiches in black and white, positive polarity on silver-halide film. There are six images on each microfiche.


Access to the collection is provided at the first level by this guide and at the second level by the inventories.

A search could start by browsing the following survey tables of the atlases and maps and/or the indexes of personal and geographical names that are of interest. There one will find the inventory letter or number for locating the document. The microfiche can then be located and viewed or the researcher can first refer to the inventories for additional information.

The inventories (with concordance)

P.A. Leupe, Inventaris der verzameling kaarten berustende in het Rijksarchief...Eerste gedeelte (The Hague 1867) (code name VEL) (in facsimile reprint and on 4 microfiches)

S.P. l'Honoré Naber, Inventaris der verzameling kaarten berustende in het Rijksarchief...Eerste supplement...(The Hague 1914) (code name VELH) (in facsimile reprint and on 2 microfiches).

These inventories are provided free of charge in facsimile reprint and on microfiche with purchase of a complete set of the microfiche. A concordance of the inventory numbers and microfiche numbers has been made and also accompanies the collection free of charge.

Available separately

The reprint of the inventories, the guide and concordance are available separately for Dfl. 250.

A revised modern edition of both inventories is under consideration at the General State Archives. Purchasers of the microfiche edition will be informed when a decision has been reached.

Information provided in the inventories

The inventories are divided into columns beginning with an inventory number or letter. These identify the document and have been reproduced in the microfiche headers. The atlases are designated by letters "A", "B", etc., followed by a map number. The loose maps are numbered consecutively. On the microfiches the letter or number is preceded by the code name VEL or VELH. Two tables are provided in this guide that give an overview of the atlases and a geographic concordance of the loose maps and drawings.

In the inventories the column marked "Beschrijving" gives a "description" of the atlas or map. The information includes the title, the size ("groot") and the scale ("schaal"). The size is frequently given in "el" by Leupe, by which he meant 100 cm, and the scale in rods of different types, (for example "Rijnlandse roeden" = 3.7674 meters) ), lines or millimetres ("streep, strepen" = 1 mm) or other systems of measurement. For Surinam the "ketting" (chain) was in use for land areas (approximately 430 square meters).

The next column lists, when known, the map maker ("vervaardigd") and the year or century of fabrication (below the maker). The following column "uitgegeven" indicates whether and by whom the map was published (many items were for internal use of the companies and were never published). In the supplement these two columns are combined into one and the author added a column "Herkomst der kaarten" for the provenance of the maps.

The final column "Aanmerkingen" gives comments and details, for example whether it is a manuscript map (M.S.).

The structure and geographical division of the collection

The inventories first list the atlases in chronological order of publication.

The following section is devoted to "Sea, Coastal, and River Maps" ("Zee-, Kust-, en Rivierkaarten"), beginning with Europe and passing by way of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope to the Persian Gulf, India and East and Southeast Asia, in other words the route sailed by VOC ships. After Asia, the western route to the Americas sailed by WIC and other ships is described.

The next section is devoted to "Land Maps, Plans, etc." (Landkaarten, Plans, etc.") and begins with Africa as there are no terrestrial maps present for Europe. It then follows the route as above.

The supplement has the same structure as Leupe's inventory.

A geographical concordance of the two sections of loose maps is given for both the original inventory and supplement.


The copyright of this microfiche edition is reserved to the General State Archives of the Netherlands. Inquiries concerning permission to reproduce any part of this present publication in any form should be addressed to:

Algemeen Rijksarchief
PO Box 90520
2509 LM Den Haag
The Netherlands
Tel + 31 70 331 5400
Fax + 31 70 331 5499
E-mail: ara@rad.archief.nl

Created: 9 July 1999   Last modified: 1 December 2000   Copyright © 1999,2000 Rodney Van Cooten

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