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Dutch East India Company charts collection

Identifier: ubl267

Scope and Contents

The collection of VOC charts at Leiden University Library is of various origins and has little consistency. Maker, function and dating of many of the VOC charts are not known. The majority of 65 charts are drawn on paper. 14 Charts are drawn on vellum.

The majority of the VOC charts collection is part of the ubl068 Bodel Nijenhuis Collection .


  • Creation: 1602-1799
  • Creation: Bulk 1673-ca. 1790

Conditions Governing Use

Most maps, atlases, prints and drawings can be viewed without any restrictions in the Special Collections Reading Room. Some very vulnerable manuscript maps require the permission of the curator. Regulations that apply during the use of these materials can be found on the website of the Leiden University Library.

Biographical / Historical

Johannes Tiberius Bodel Nijenhuis was born in Amsterdam in 1797 but moved to Leiden after the death of his mother in 1799, where he was raised by his grandfather Johannes Luchtmans, owner of the renowned publishing house Luchtmans. Bodel Nijenhuis studied law at Leiden University and published his thesis in 1819 on the history of law regarding publishing and book trading (published in Latin but translated and published in Dutch in 1892). He became the co-owner of Luchtmans publishing firm and bookstore in 1821 but decided in 1848 to dissolve the firm, leaving the publishing house to E.J. Brill, and concentrate himself on his collecting activities. Bodel Nijenhuis played an important role in the cultural life in Leiden in the mid-nineteenth century. He was a member of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde and, from 1839 onwards, its secretary. He also published some bibliographic studies such as a catalogue of the library of the Maatschappij der Nederlandse Letterkunde (J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis & H.W. Tydeman, Catalogus der bibliotheek van de Maatschappij der Nederlandsche Letterkunde te Leiden, 1829) and a catalogue of topographical publications (J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis, Topographische lijst der plaatsbeschrijvingen van het Koningrijk der Nederlanden, 1862; 1868).


79 charts

Language of Materials


Abstract in Dutch

De collectie bestaat uit 79 handgetekende zeekaarten op perkament en papier, vervaardigd in opdracht van de Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie en grotendeels afkomstig uit de verzameling van J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis (1797-1872).

Abstract in English

The collection consists of 79 manuscript charts on vellum and paper, commissioned by the Dutch East India Company and mostly belonging to the collection of J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis (1797-1872).

Physical Location

Leiden University Library, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

The charts are accessible via the online catalogue and on the Atlas of Mutual Heritage. In 1996 a catalogue of these VOC charts was published (De Vries 1996).

Custodial History

The collection of VOC charts at Leiden University Libraries is of various origins. It is unclear how these maps ended up in the Bodel Nijenhuis Collection. Although leakage of the charts was prohibited by the board ('Heeren Zeventien') of the VOC, many maps came on the market and were included in private map collections. Probably they ended up in the Bodel Nijenhuis Collection when he purchased maps at auctions of earlier collectors who passed away.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

J.T. Bodel Nijenhuis bequeathed by will parts of his collection to Leiden University Library. This will, drawn up in 1866, stipulated that the atlases, maps and topographical prints and drawings were to be donated to the University Library, together with his collection of portraits of Leiden professors and directors.


Incidentally, charts are acquired for the collection.

Existence and Location of Copies

All charts are digitised and online available in our Catalogue as well as in the Atlas of Mutual Heritage.

Related Materials

In the Bodel Nijenhuis Collection some hundreds more manuscript maps and plans of trading areas, towns and fortifications of the Dutch East- and West-India companies are kept, as well as an early chart on vellum of the Atlantic Ocean of the so-called Edam or North-Holland school of cartographers (Cornelis Doedsz., 1600) ad a chart on vellum of the coasts of Dutch Brazil (Geleijns van Stapel, 1632). The Collection Van Keulen holds another 334 manuscript charts. This collection was part of the company archive of the publishing house Van Keulen.

Separated Materials

VOC charts on vellum and paper that have survived are spread over various collections. The largest collection of VOC charts is kept in the National Archives of the Netherlands in The Hague. About 6,000 images of VOC and WIC maps, charts, plans and topographical prints and drawings, of about 20 institutions, are accessible via Atlas of Mutual Heritage.


  • Diessen, J.R. van (ed.), Grote atlas van de Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie = Comprehensive atlas of the Dutch United East India Company. 7 vols. Voorburg 2006-2010.
  • Schilder, G.en H. Kok, Sailing for the East. History & catalogue of manuscript charts on vellum of the Dutch East India Comapny (VOC), 1602-1799. Houten 2010.
  • Vries, D. de, Uit de kaartenwinkel van de VOC. Zeekaarten uit de 17e en 18e eeuw. Alphen aan den Rijn 1996.


The material can be requested in the online catalogue. It can be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room.

See also Alternative form available and Restrictions on use.

Processing Information

All charts are described in the online catalogue and have a callnumber starting with COLLBN. The COLLBN signature is also used for later acquisitions. In 2005 the charts were digitised for the Atlas of Mutual Heritage.

Collection guide of the Dutch East India Company charts collection (1602-1799)
Collectie zeekaarten van de Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie
Martijn Storms, 2015
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Beschrijving is in het Engels.

Revision Statements

  • 16 October 2015: latest update

Repository Details

Part of the Leiden University Libraries Archives & Collections Repository

Witte Singel 27
Leiden 2311 BG Netherlands
+31 71 527 2857