Ancient Maps of Harlingerland

Rumor has it a few of my forebears came from Ostfriesland, a largely bypassed spot on the coast of northern Germany. In researching their origins, I have gathered some antique maps of the area—made in the days when a map was an object of art as well as a piece of information. These small, exquisitely crafted gems intrigue and delight even when they’re a different look at a familiar place, like Paris or London or New York. How much greater the thrill, then, when they portray places you’ve never heard of—mythic lands and lost cultures. I invite you to tour my collection.

My interest is in the north central coast of Ostfriesland, an area called Harlingerland, and specifically the towns of Esens and Holum (a.k.a. Grootholum). For more information about my particular interest, see my notes about forebears from Ostfriesland.

For two excellent collections of ancient maps of Ostfriesland, see the sites of Michael Recke and Manfred Becker, both of Emden. They provide two terrific collections of maps of Ostfriesland, with many images available online. My few additions only fill in details where their large collections offer enormous breadth.

Their collections, in fact, got me started looking for more maps of the area one of my earliest known ancestors came from. The existing online images of the entire East Frisian peninsula, alas, were too fuzzy for me to pick out names of specific locations I was interested in. So I picked myself up and went over to the New York Public Library, where I found a map room with answers to many of my favorite riddles.

All the images on these pages are from the collection in the New York Public Library. Some are originals; some are facsimiles. I took the pictures myself under low-light conditions, so you’ll notice the color doesn’t always seem quite right, and some of the pictures are not perfectly focused. But if you’re interested in detailed old maps of Harlingerland, you’ve come to the right place.

Here, then, are the maps, in chronological order:

David Fabricius of Esens: 1589

Ubbo Emmius: 1595

Gerhard Mercator (Jan Jansson): 1636

Nicholas Visscher: 1655

Wilhelm and Johan Blaeu: 1659 and 1664

Mathurin Guitet: What year?

Wasser-Flutt in Nieder-Teutschland, 25 Dec. 1717

Harlingerland Maps: A Historic Survey

By the time of Le Coq’s map of 1809 (actually, by Güssefeld’s map of 1790), the bay separating Harlingerland from Jeverland has been completely filled in. (See Michael Recke’s map collection, using the link above, for copies of these maps.)

For German translations of these pages (or any other Web pages, try Babelfish.

All maps on these pages are reproduced courtesy of

The Map Division
The New York Public Library
Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Back to MrJumbo’s home page