The postal map of Jacob Quack

On the final day of my fellowship at Trinity Long Room Hub I casually scrolled through the 1872 catalogue of the library, when I stumbled upon a reference to my home town: De Mont van de Maes. Description of Rotterdam, Fr. and Dutch, and 22 views on the Maes. The copy (Fag.L.1.5) is part of the Fagel Collection and I decided that this ‘book’ would be the final request from the stacks.

One of the intrinsic qualities of books is that you don’t need any instructions on how to use it. You simply open the book and start reading. Not this time around. The volume that I had requested from the stacks contained several engravings, some on double sheets, text in Dutch and French, several engraved maps, or part of maps, and some sort of title-page with the text: Rotterodamum Hollandiæ urbs celeberrima et situ portibusque mercaturæ opportunissima A° 1665. How should this be understood as a book?

Rotterodamum Hollandiæ urbs celeberrima et situ portibusque mercaturæ opportunissima A° 1665 (Trinity College Library, Fag.L.1.5)

Printed text

The sheets with printed text added to the confusion. There are two sheets with Dutch text, two more with a French text. Each sheet contains six pages with printed text, the verso of all pages is blank. There is no way to fold the pages in such a way that you end up with something that resembles our idea of a book. In the Fagel copy the sheets with text are unfolded, which means that half of the text is upside-down.

The dedication is signed by Jacob Quack and his name certainly rings a bell. Jacob Quack (before 1622 – 1668) was postmaster of Rotterdam and played an important role in the postal and news services between the Dutch Republic and England, Scotland and Ireland. He is best remembered for two maps that he produced. The ‘book’ that is in the Fagel collection are in fact two wall maps that were never put together. This explains why the verso side of the text is blank: it was supposed to be pasted onto a board and displayed on the wall. Only the recto side would be visible.

Dutch text of ‘Beschryvinge der wijdberoemde koopstad Rotterdam’ (Trinity College Library, Fag.L.1.5)

Wall map

The postal map of Jacob Quack is included in the recently published fabulous book De geschiedenis van Nederland in 100 oude kaarten by Marieke van Delft and Reinder Storm. They elaborately describe the history of Jacob Quack, his merits for the postal services and the way how this is projected on the map. There is no need to reproduce that story in a blog post, but it is helpful to see how the map would look like once it was put together as a wall map. In the copy of the Maritime Museum of Rotterdam, below, we see the four sheet map in the centre, with ten engravings of vessels on the side and coastal views on the top and bottom. The text that was supposed to be at the bottom is lacking in this copy.

The postal map of Jacob Quack
The postal map of Jacob Quack. Copy: Maritiem Museum Rotterdam.

There are, in fact, very few (if any) complete surviving copies of these wall maps. The Fagel copy is basically the original building kit as it was sold in the shop: the wall map bound as a folio volume with loose maps, engravings and text. What makes it complex, is that the Fagel volume contains parts of both of Quack’s maps. It seems that the Fagels never intended to put the maps together, it was simply part of their reference or archival collection. The fact that it was bound as a book and not put together as a wall map, is probably the reason it survived.

Jan Kralinge

When the Fagels acquired their copy is uncertain. The map is generally dated 1665-1666, however, the Fagel copy was bound later. The Dutch text in the Fagel copy is not dated. It might be original, but is a different impression from the edition that is in the KB in The Hague (197 F 3). The French text has a colophon which reads ‘Tot Rotterdam, bij Jan Kralinge, konst- en kaertverkcoper op het Vissersdijck, ontrent den Beurs, Anno 1677″ and was printed 11 to 12 years after the map.

Jan Kralinge is a rather unknown publisher. In the Short-Title Catalogue, Netherlands, we find no books published with his name in the imprint. This is hardly surprising, because he presents himself as an ‘art and map-seller’ and not as a publisher or bookseller. If we turn to the database of the Rijksmuseum, we find seven prints with his name on it. There is no doubt that he must have sold much more prints and maps, but apparently very few have survived with his name in the imprint.

The rare and curious Fagel copy raises all kind of questions. Why is it bound as a book? Why is there a French text? Why was this produced a decade after the publication of the map? The French text is extremely rare. It is not an exact translation of the Dutch text, the dedication by Jacob Quack is missing, but just like the Dutch text it was clearly intended to be part of the wall map. Did Jan Kralinge commission this translation, perhaps because customers at his shop had asked for a French edition? And how did the Fagels use this map? Was it simply something for their archive? The fact that all maps and illustrations are bound together with the text in both languages, points in that direction.

There is no easy answer how to deal with these maps in a bibliography. The reference works for maps and atlases deal with the maps, but sometimes fail to recognize the different states of the text. The fact that text was produced to accompany the images decades after the publication of the maps displays the continuity over time. For the moment, we have included the Dutch and French text as separate editions in the STCN, but this solution is still open for discussion.

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