the sea route
For a long time, the route over the Baltic Sea was the preferred one for merchants. They travelled from ports such as Stralsund, Lübeck and Kiel to trade in the cities of the Baltic. Ships even came to Tallinn and the other Estonian harbours from faraway places such as Amsterdam and Hamburg, sailing along the coasts of the North Sea and passing Denmark. With the rise of steamships in the middle of the 19th century, regularly scheduled sailings from Lübeck to Tallinn began.
The maps of this route start with early printed pieces and overview maps of the Baltic Sea, followed by detailed cartographic representations of the Baltic throughout history. Having reached the European mainland, maps from the 16th to the 18th century document the cartographic survey of the Oldenburg Land. Selected highlights present particularities of this cultural space, among them the megalithic tombs “Visbek Bride and Groom” from the funnelbeaker culture, or the Island of Wangerooge in the Wadden Sea national park (UNESCO World Heritage region).
“Coming from Riga, having reached the Gulf of Finland and having passed the Isle of Nargö, one sets course for the South and through the telescope one can already spy the Olaithurm tower in Tallinn. Approaching the city in summer, when the whole bay, where the city is located at latitude 59° 29′ and longitude 24° 47′, is flooded by bright sunlight, the waters are dotted with white sails and a cloudless sky covers all of the land. The view reminds one of Naples. But only in summer. In the rougher season, sheets of ice are stacked on top of each other in the harbor and a winterly veil covers the view that was so lovely in summer. During the summer months, Tallinn is a popular seaside resort thanks to its magnificent location.”
From: Lehnert, Josef von et al..: Die Seehäfen des Weltverkehrs. vol 1. Vienna, 1891, p 856-858.
Scandianæ insulæ index
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Johannes Magnus, Olaus Magnus, Giovanni Maria Viotti
Woodcut, 26 x 17 cm
The “History of all Kings of the Goths and Swedes” by Johannes Magnus contains one of the earliest maps of the Baltic Sea and of Scandinavia. The history was published by Magnus’ brother, Swedish bishop Olaus Magnus, in 1554. The map was based on his great “Carta Marina” from 1539. The woodcut only provides a highly simplified depiction of the coastline and topographical features. Nonetheless, the map names the individual regions of Scandinavia and neighbouring lands on the shores of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea.
At first glance, this nautical chart of the Baltic Sea appears to be a work of the publishing house Covens & Mortier, which operated in Amsterdam from 1685 to 1866. The network of lines is a means to facilitate navigation. An accurate depiction of the coastline is, thus, especially important. This is accompanied by several numbers indicating the depths of the seafloor. Upon closer inspection, however, the map is from the „Neptune François, ou Atlas nouveau des cartes marines“, a French volume of nautical charts created on the initiative of Jean-Baptiste Colbert (1619-1683) and published by Claude Gournai in Paris in 1693. It contains several nautical charts of the Baltic Sea, the North Sea and the European Atlantic coast. In the same year, Pieter Mortier (1661-1711), father of the two purported creators of the Baltic Map, Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783) and Johannes Covens (1697-1774), also published the “Neptune François” – without authorization by the King of France. His edition, however, was not used by navigators but served the purpose of a showpiece. No later than 1721, the publishing house ceased printing the volume. Existing copies of the whole volume as well as individual maps were sold off in the following years. Thus, the map of the Baltic Sea is not a “Nieuwe Caart” but rather an unauthorized variant edition.
Nieuwe Caart Van De Oost Zee ou Carte De La Mer Baltique : Contenant les Bancs, Isles Et Costes Comprises entre L’Isle De Zelande et l’Extremité du Golfe De Finlande
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Johannes Cóvens, Corneille Mortier, Jacques LeRoy
Copper engraving, 60 x 87 cm
Sinus Finnici Delineatio Geographica
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Tobias Mayer
Copper engraving, 44 x 40 cm
This map by Tobias Mayer (1723-62), an astronomer and professor of Mathematics from Göttingen, shows the Gulf of Finland. From 1746 to 1751, Mayer was the director of the publishing house Homann, which specialized in maps. The map shows the complete territory of the governorate of Estonia, then part of Imperial Russia. The copper engraver Johann Baptist Homann (1664-1724) had founded the publishing house in 1702. After the founder’s son had died, Johann Georg Ebersberger (1695-1724) and Johann Michael Franz (1700-1761) ran the business. The map was included in the „Atlas geographicus maior“, the most prestigious edition of this publishing house, which flourished during those years and produced a considerable number of new, high quality maps.
Pieter Groos (1616-1675) was one of Amsterdam’s best-known bookdealers who was also responsible for the publication of several volumes of nautical charts and nautical handbooks. Between 1650 and 1678, he published 21 editions of the “Zee-Spiegel” in three languages, among them the rare Spanish edition of 1669. The overview maps of the North Sea and the Baltic Sea from the “Atlas de la Mar” are mostly based on maps from the “Zee-Atlas” of Goos’ Amsterdam competitor Hendrick Doncker.
Pas-Caart van de Oost Zee : Verthoonende Alle de ghelegentheydt tusschen ´t Eÿlandt Rugen ende Wÿborg.
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Gerard Coeck, Pieter Goos
Pascaert van Schager-Rack, De Best en de Orisondt; tot in de Oost-Zee
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Hendrick Doncker
In 1448, Count Christian I of Oldenburg became King of Denmark and King of Norway in 1450, thus establishing a dynasty of European high nobility that is still important today. Between 1667 and 1773, the County of Oldenburg belonged to Denmark and was ruled directly from Copenhagen. This detailed map of the Skagerrak was reissued by Doncker. Hendrick Doncker (1626-1699) ran his publishing house in Amsterdam for more than 50 years. Other than Goos, Doncker was always keen on the continuous improvement and growth of his collection of nautical charts. Thus, the “Zee-Atlas” continued to grow.
Pieter Goos of Amsterdam (1616-1675) published, engraved and traded in nautical charts and nautical atlases. His atlases were not primarily intended to be used at sea but rather meant for ship-owners and merchants. Professionally engraved maps with attractive colouration stimulated his customers’ demand.
Pascaart van de Noort Zee : Verthoonende in zich alle de Custen en havens daer rontom gelegen
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Gerard Coeck, Pieter Goos
Circvlvs Westphalicvs Sive Germaniæ Inferioris
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Joan Blaeu
Amsterdam [ between 1640 and 1659]
Copper engraving, 40 x 53 cm
In 1500, the empire of Maximilian I was divided into ten Imperial Circles. The Lower Rhenish-Westphalian Circle included the Northwest, from the lower Rhine to the coast, and reached to the River Weser in the East. The County of Oldenburg also belonged to it. This map of the Westphalian Circle is from the Great Atlas by Joan Blaeu (1596-1673). The Dutch Blaeu dynasty of publishers and cartographers published numerous maps and atlases in the 17th century. Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638) studied Astronomy and Cartography with Tycho Brahe. In 1633, Blaeu became the official cartographer to the Dutch East India Company (VOC). His son Joan Blaeu continued to run the company successfully until, in 1672, a fire destroyed the workshop in Amsterdam – together with the precious copper plates.
The Oldenburg Land in the north-western part of modern Lower Saxony includes the coastal areas west of the mouth of the Weser, up to the island of Wangerooge, and reaches south to the Dümmer lake, north of Osnabrück. In the Middle Ages, the County of Oldenburg was established along the rivers Jade, Hunte and Weser. In 1583, Laurentius Michaelis (ca. 1529-1584) drew the first map of the county, which Abraham Ortelius (1527-1598) printed in his new Theatrum-edition in the following year. It shows the union of the lordships of Jever (red) with the County of Oldenburg (yellow) since 1575 and is, therefore, of considerable political importance. The map is rather inaccurate and out of date with regard to its representation of geographical detail, particularly for the Jade Bight. Due to the map’s distribution via the atlases of Ortelius and Mercator, however, this false depiction of the region was widely disseminated.
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Laurentius Michaelis, Abraham Ortelius[Antwerpen], [after 1595]
Copper engraving, 33 x 23 cm
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Jan Jansson
Amsterdam [after 1630?]
Copper engraving, 36 x 47 cm
This map influenced the representation of the County of Oldenburg in atlases subsequently to the year 1630. Jodocus Hondius (1594-1629) was its original creator. He sold the copper plate to Willem Janszoon Blaeu (1571-1638), who published it without emendations in several editions of his atlases. Blaeu’s competitor Jan Jansson (1588-1664) copied the map and created new engravings. These continued to be used into the early 18th century.
This map by Oldenburg “Deichgraf” (state officer in charge of the levees) Johann Wilhelm Anton Hunrichs dates from 1761 and is the result of meticulous new cartographic surveys that were carried out in the middle of the 18th century. The map – also called “Vogteikarte” – emphasizes the boundaries of the “Vogteien” (bailiwicks), shows the course of the levees and – for the first time – depicts roads with double lines. It also shows the large areas of bog land, the more densely populated marshland along the coast and in the river valleys, as well as the sparsely inhabited flatland of the Geest. These three types of landscape dominate the Oldenburg Land until today, even though many bogs have been drained in the last centuries.
Comitatvvm Oldenbvrg et Delmenhorst pro recentissimo Statu uti est Sub Regno Potentissimi Regis Friderici v Facta delineation
Cartographer/Engraver/Publisher: Johann Wilhelm Anton Hunrich
Nürnberg, Homannsche Erben, 1761
Copper engraving, 49 x 48 cm