Rare charts presented to the National Library

Chairman of Australian Capital Equity, Kerry Stokes, has lent the National Library of Australia four rare Dutch navigational charts, the only such charts in Australian hands.
Despite many voyages made by the Dutch to Java, few of these working charts have survived. The hand-drawn vellum or calf-skin charts were used to plot the voyages by the VOC (Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie), known today as the Dutch East India Company, which had a monopoly on trade and shipping to Australia from the end of the 16th century.

These four charts, previously unrecorded, came to light in the 1980s through a Dutch collector. They will join another VOC navigational chart acquired by the National Library in 2008 which plays a key role in Australia’s mapping history. It is expected all the charts will go on show when the National Library’s Treasures Gallery opens in 2011.

Plane navigation charts were used to mark the path of VOC ships sailing across the Indian Ocean. Following a voyage, the chart’s information would be recorded in the VOC archives and erased from the map. The chart would then be given to another ship for the next voyage. This chart shows faint pencil lines of a previous voyage. 

All Images are in high resolution JPEG format approximately A4 @ 300dpi.

Chart 1:

Isaac de Graaf (1667–1743)
Chart of the Netherlands, south-eastern England and the English Channel  c.1720
ink on vellum; 73.0 x 92.0 cm
Download (7.01Mb zip)

This is a detailed Vereenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie navigation chart depicting the southern part of the North Sea, from the English Channel to Lincolnshire and the Wadden Islands, and the Dutch and English coastlines. The chart provides information on safe navigation through the English Channel, with detailed hydrography along the Dutch, Flemish, English and French coastlines. Place names appear within the coastlines, so as to not obscure navigational data—hazards in particular. Towns with a VOC chamber, port and fortification are noted in brown ink.

Chart 2:

Isaac de Graaf (1667–1743)
From the Cape of Good Hope to the Sunda Strait  c.1734
ink on vellum; 71.0 x 94.0 cm
(6.33Mb zip)

This small-scale ‘plane’ navigation chart (which does not account for the Earth’s curvature) shows the southern and eastern African coastlines, Arabia, India, south-east Asia, Sumatra and part of Java, the west coast of Australia and all islands in the Indian Ocean.

Chart 3:

Isaac de Graaf (1667–1743)
From the Cape of Good Hope to the Sunda Strait, annotated with tracks of the ship Diemermeer  c.1745
ink on vellum; 71.0 x 94.0 cm
(6.85Mb zip)

This small-scale ‘plane’ navigation chart  shows the daily positions of the East-Indiaman Diemermeer from 24 February 1745 to 14 August when the ship arrived at Ceylon. A second series of daily positions are shown beginning 6 May 1746, arriving off the Sunda Strait on 30 May.

Chart 4:

Unknown chartmaker
Java Sea  c.1720
ink on vellum; 84.0 x 96.0 cm
Download (7.94Mb zip)

This detailed navigation chart was produced in the cartographic workshop of the VOC at Batavia. It shows depictions of towns and fortifications, rivers and inshore views, anchorages, shoals and soundings for the islands of Java, Bali, Lombok, the western parts of Flores and Celebes, and the southern parts of Borneo, Bangka and Sumatra.

Anias chart:
(National Library of Australia)

Attributed to Abraham Anias (1694–1750)
Chart of the Indian Ocean  1730
ink on vellum; 61.6 x 84.2 cm
Maps Collection, nla.map-rm4096
(7.29Mb zip)

This small-scale navigation chart of the Indian Ocean—produced by the chief cartographer of the Zeeland Chamber of the VOC in Middleburg—shows the coasts of East Africa, Madagascar, the Arabian Peninsula, Persian Gulf, India, the Maldives, south-east Asia and the west coast of Australia. It shows the coastlines and reefs that were sailing hazards, and records the position of the 1727 wreck of VOC ship Zeewijck on its maiden voyage off the coast of Western Australia.

Back to the top