Review – Atlas De Wit: City Atlas of the Low Countries

Receiving the atlas Last year, I won a wonderful facsimile atlas in a contest by the Royal Library. I love maps and am a founding member of the study group for the history of cartography in my home town. When I saw that the Royal Library was giving away a copy of this atlas for the best tip on how to get the most out of their newspaper website Delpher, I did my best to submit an outside-the-box kind of tip to maximize my chances of¬†winning and it worked ūüôā

My tip? Search for common OCR errors.

I really enjoy the atlas and thought I would share my review with you.

Frederik de Wit

The atlas was created by Frederik de Wit (1630-1706), a famous engraver and publisher of maps. Frederik de Wit did not create maps himself, but he engraved the maps of others and published them in the form of atlases.

City atlas of the Low Countries

His most famous work is the City Atlas of the Low Countries, which appeared in 1698. Some of the plates that were used were over a century old, so the depiction of the towns was sometimes outdated. But this was not a 17th century Rand McNally or satnav that people used to navigate, this was a work of art, purchased by the rich merchants and nobles who wanted such a work for their libraries.

Here are some of the maps featured in the atlas:





Facsimile edition

The facsimile edition was¬†published by the Royal Library in 2012, reproduced from¬†an original atlas in their collection. The book is just magnificent and features 185 maps of different cities in the Netherlands and Belgium, including Alkmaar, Amsterdam, Antwerp, Brussels, Ghent, Gouda, Leeuwarden, Leiden, Middelburg and Zwolle.¬†Check the full list of cities to see if your ancestor’s city appears¬†in the atlas. Not all the plates are maps, some are of important buildings or cityscapes, especially in Amsterdam.

At 14 x 21 x 2.6 inches and 15.6 pounds, this is definitely not a light read. The reproductions are gorgeous, often spanning two pages, all in full-color. You can see each scratch of the pen, each man on the wall, each speck of color on the roofs.

The accompanying text is also very helpful and available in Dutch, English and French. For the larger cities, the text explains the city’s history and development of the town plan and gives background information on the buildings or other features in the maps.

I highly recommend the atlas to anybody with Dutch ancestors, even if your ancestors aren’t from one of cities featured in the atlas. The maps are just stunning and reading about how cities developed and about the fortifications will give you a better understanding of how your ancestors lived. Needless to say, I’m very happy with my price!

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Book details

Authors (introduction and accompanying text): Marieke van Delft and Peter van der Krogt
Title: Atlas De Wit: City Atlas of the Low Countries
ISBN: 978-9401401890
Publisher: Lannoo Publishers
Language: English/Dutch/French

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About Yvette Hoitink

Yvette Hoitink, CG¬ģ, QG™ is a professional genealogist in the Netherlands. She holds the Certified Genealogist credential from the Board for Certification of Genealogists and has a post-graduate diploma in Family and Local History from the University of Dundee. She has been doing genealogy for over 30 years and helps people from across the world find their ancestors in the Netherlands. Read about Yvette's professional genealogy services.

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