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Map of Surinam showing the rivers and regions


Map of Surinam showing the rivers and regions

Lavaux, Alexander de

Title Leupe: “Generale Caart van de Provintie Suriname, rivieren en distrieten, met alle d'ontdekkingen van militaire togten, mitsgaders de groote der gemetene plantagien, gecarteert op de naauwkeurigste waarnemingen.”

Alexander de Lavaux was born in Berlin around 1704 and arrived in Surinam in 1729 as an ensign in the service of the Society. For the next three years he participated in expeditions against the Marrons -the dotted routes on the map

in the area between the upper reaches of the Saramacca and the Surinam. He also worked as a surveyor, in which capacity he was entitled to make use of the existing maps in the government archive in Paramaribo. Referring to this material and utilizing his own surveys, in the period 1732-1734 on his own initiative De Lavaux made a large general map of the whole of what was then the colony of Surinam, which far surpassed all previous ones made by others in the accuracy of its topographical reproduction.

On the various printed versions of this map produced between 1737 and 1770, a survey reappears as an inset map in several adapted variants. The insert map of the first print shown here gives the most complete impression. It indicates the routes of his 1730-1731 expeditions. The square (A) on it shows ‘the cultivated and familiar part of Surinam’, the line (B) indicates the border with Berbice ‘according to the surveyor Abraham Maas’ (he was active in Surinam 1700-1719; see also sheets 120-121). The content and printing of the map are of outstanding quality, so even it its current damaged state, the smallest details are still clearly legible. Various elucidations and legends are visible and the map contains a splendid contour of fruits, coats of arms and Indians.

North is below.

Scale-bars of 1500 Chains of 66 Rhineland feet / 8 Surinamese Miles = [approximately 1 : 262,000] / [inset map] Eight Holland miles of 20 in a degree = [approximately 1 : 1,585,000].

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Sources and literature

Heijer, H. den, Grote Atlas van de West-Indische Compagnie = Comprehensive Atlas of the Dutch West India Company, II, de nieuwe WIC 1674-1791 = the new WIC 1674-1791 (2012)