Maps and Drawings

4. Maps and Drawings elsewhere in the Netherlands and in France

n some cases maps and drawings of premises and buildings of the VOC at home in the Netherlands have strayed into local archives and museums. Likewise, some of the maps and drawings in the Netherlands National Archives of the Netherlands relating to possessions in and the trade with Asia have also become detached from their original archival context. Some of them were abstracted from their original place during the VOC era, for instance for the making of copies in mapbooks or series of maps. Furthermore, the disregard for archive management in the first half of the nineteenth century was also a factor in the mislaying of maps. Antiquarian interest likewise played a role. The antiquarian Frederik Muller took a portfolio of maps, which he later deposited in the Netherlands National Archives of the Netherlands, from the collections of the West Indian Company in Middelburg. Less honest examples can also be posited: maps and drawings were also abstracted from the archives and sold. In this fashion some maps have found their way into the Netherlands National Archives of the Netherlands by way of a detour, but others have ended up in other places(89).


Map of 12 provinces in the south west of Ceylon; 1719

(click image to enlarge)

A large number of VOC maps are now in Paris. The confused situation there in 1814/1815 was a contributory factor in not all the Dutch holdings from the Dépôt de la Marine being returned. Besides the loose VOC maps and drawings which were mislaid, the former collection in the stuurmanskamer in Amsterdam is important. This collection, which consists largely of hand-drawn charts, roughly estimated at 400 sheets (perhaps even a few hundred more), was absorbed into the collection of the Dépôt de la Marine. Nearly the entire collection of old maps and plans from this Dépôt, the name of which was changed to Service Hydrographique de la Marine, was handed over to the Departement des Cartes et Plans of the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris in three stages. Other sections of the old collections, in a remarkable manoeuvre of the respect des fonds, were deposited in the Archives Nationales and the military collections in the Chateau of Vincennes in Paris and the Service Hydrographique in Brest(90).

Besides maps from the VOC archives, in the holdings of the Service Hydrographique, there are also maps of the VOC octrooigebied which originally came from the archives and collections of the stadhouder, William V, which were confiscated in 1796(91). There are no printed finding aids to the maps and drawings collections of the Service Hydrographique which contains more than just charts. A photocopy of the inventory of the collections of the Service Hydrographique is available in the maps and drawings reading room of the General States Archives in the Netherlands(92).

Another important collection is that of the models of VOC ships. In the Ministry of the Navy these have been added to the models of admiralty and naval ships. This collection was described in the middle of the nineteenth century(93). Through the good offices of Victor de Stuers this collection was handed over to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam in its entirety(94). The ship plans which belong to the model collection are preserved in the National Archives of the Netherlands in the Netherlands (code MTSH), but as far as is known these do not include any plans of VOC ships.

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