In the 17th century several similar maps has been made of the Administrative District of Arnhem in Gelderland in the center of The Netherlands. On all these maps Arnhem is bottom right and they all show more or less the same area. It seems logic: now you copy or scan a map if you need a basis to start with, but the 17th century were different times. Map-makers often adapted an old map for a new purpose.

Nicolaes used a map from 1610 as the basis for this one in 1656. Apparently not so much had been changed in those 46 years.

The map has been made by Nicolaes van Geelkercken in 1656 and measures 52 by 62 cm. He used paper, ink and water paint. It must have been one of his last maps, because Nicolaes died in 1656.

It is a roughly sketched map showing the limits of the Administrative District of Arnhem. Nicolaes draws a few forests, but most of the land was bare heathland. The beauty of this map lies in the details: it shows lots of hills and valleys, roads, farms and estates in the countryside with houses, fields and trees, but also smaller details like boundary markers, gallows, poles and dams.

Historical map
Gelders Archief 1551-70

Map number 2 is a weird duo-map. The left part is a copy of a map of 1650 by Nicolaes van Geelkercken. You see Arnhem in the bottom right. North and West of the city a lot of roads and estates are visible. What is remarkable, and that makes this map unique, is that Van Geelkercken indicates the system of dry valleys and even gives them names. The map on the right is made by Leenen in 1725 and indicates new developments since 1650.

GA 2000-4613

The next map does not show Arnhem but starts just outside the walls of the city. Also this one has been drawn by Nicolaes van Geelkercken,.

GA 2000-4609

These maps only differ in details. To compare them, I think the easiest thing to recognise is the ‘butterfly’ of Deelen. On the double map you find Deelen on both maps close to the top edge just left from the middle. Its spot on the vague map is the same. On the last map you find Deelen in the centre, just right above the center folds.

Location of the maps in The Netherlands:

Map of The Netherlands
AHN