In the late sixteenth century, the Dutch Republic rose to a position of power and influence in Europe due in part to the Dutch merchant fleet which carried commercial interests into the known and unknown parts of the world. In addition to making great inroads into the East Indian spice trade, Dutch traders began exploring and charting the New World.
By the seventeenth century, Dutch mapmakers began to dominate the international trade in maps, charts, and atlases. Gerard Mercator and Abraham Ortelius were among the first prominent cartographers of the Dutch Golden Age, soon to be followed by Willem Janszoon Blaeu and Jodocus Hondius, among many others. Their works were noteworthy for their wealth of new cartographical information as well as the beauty of their hand-colored illustrations.
The Wooldridge Collection, consisting of over 350 maps of Virginia from the sixteenth to the nineteenth centuries, has been placed on deposit at The Mariners’ Museum Library at Christopher Newport University by the Virginia Cartographical Society. The collection is well documented and lavishly illustrated in William C. Wooldridge’s Mapping Virginia From the Age of Exploration to the Civil War (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, in association with the Virginia Cartographical Society, 2012). Access to the collection is by appointment only. For more information please contact Library@Marinersmuseum.org or phone 757.591.7782.