Adriaen Coenen: Fish Book (1577-1581)


(Royal Library of the Netherlands, The Hague, The Netherlands)

Something special this time. This page comes from a book which was written and illustrated by the Dutch Adriaen Coenen (1514 – 1587). Adriaen Coenen was a fish auctioneer, merchant, wreck master and later in his life a local politician in the town of Scheveningen. Coenen became a respected authority in academic circles regarding sea life due to his experience with marine life at his work and speaking with the fishermen. He complied his knowledge in several books of which one he gave to prince William I 'the silent' of Orange (1533-1584), the leader of the Dutch war of independence. The book itself presents a massive amount of information on the sea and its coasts, coastal waters, fishing grounds, marine animals, legendary animals (like mermen, mermaids, a seabishop, a seaknight), people, maps, shells, jellyfish etc. Coenen gives a detailed description of each marine animal: how it is named and also in other languages, its characteristics, when people fish for this animals and how and also provides a picture of the animal. He also frequently states were he got his information: some things he saw himself (including an Inuit), from other fishermen and from other books. A note several years later state that at the annual market people could take a look at his Visboeck and his dried fish collection for several cents. Book from around 1579.

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