Nicholas Janszen Visscher: 1655?-80

a.k.a. Claes Janßon Visscher, Nicholas Fisher, Nicolaus Iohannides Piscator

As early as 1624, Claes Janszen had made a small map of East Frisia. By 1655 (?), he had undertaken the larger project of an atlas, which of course included all the areas he had mapped until then.

Somewhat disorienting (literally) for modern viewers, but very common in older atlases, north is not at the top of this map but on the right side. So the characteristic shape of the East Frisian peninsula is rocked on its side. Nevertheless, Esens can clearly be seen, as well as the islet off the Bensersiel, and the wide bay separating Harlingerland from Jeverland.

Click on the map above for a larger version.

As with most maps of the time, the border artistry is as delightful as the map itself. Here a Frisian fellow surveys the scene, mapmaker’s compass and rule in hand, the rule doubling in service as a scale for the rest of the map. He seems to be sitting on the prow of a small fishing boat, with a net hanging off to the side—an allusion both to the mapmaker’s name and a principal occupation along the Frisian coastline.

Note that there’s no reference to Ubbo Emmius or other mapmakers here: It’s a fresh map, drawn by Visscher himself. (Frequently the fellow in the corner of the map makes reference to the fellow used by the author of whichever map the current mapmaker is cribbing from. It’s a way of acknowledging a source so even those who cannot read will recognize the attribution, I suppose.)

As you can see, on a single map he writes his name two ways, one in the Dutch inscription and another in the Latin.

Visscher Intro . . . Visscher Title Page and Westphalia

Back to Ancient Maps of Harlingerland index

All maps on these pages are reproduced courtesy of

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

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