Bonaire, History, Charts and Maps, The Story of the Bonaire Chart and the Werbata-Jonckheer Maps, 1825-1915


In 1825 King Willem I gave Baron Cornelis R.T. Krayenhoff (1758-1840) the assignment to carry out an exploration of the island of Curaçao, at which time first of all he was to consider the improvement of its defense. In May of 1825 General Krayenhoff took off with the West India brigade consisting of three adjutants and ten officers, with the frigate Amstel to West India. After a brief stay in Surinam the expedition arrived in Curaçao in June.

In June, July and August Krayenhoff remained on Curaçao (carrying out smaller expeditions to Aruba and Bonaire) while he and his staff worked on mapping: “…we have been here on Curaçao since 26 June. We have been very busy throughout that time, measuring and drawing, as well as with the other commissions given us by General Krayenhoff. Now we have completed the entire project on Curaçao, and General Krayenhoff who will leave to the fatherland again tomorrow with the Amstel has all the plans and notes with him to give to the King.”


Bonaire: Carte de l’Ile de Bon-Aire, dressée au mois d’Octobre 1866 d’après les ordres du Gouverneur de Curaçao / par A. Conradi et E.E. Jarman. – Scale 1:80.000. – Lithography.


The surveying of Bonaire –the network of triangles of which could be linked to that of Curaçao – commenced in 1905, but due to a shortage of suitable personnel it took until 1909 to be completed. The triangulation of Aruba and Bonaire was finally completed by L. Lens who had meanwhile been promoted to captain. According to the colonial reports these triangulations were intended for domain maps (predecessors to the cadastre) of the relevant islands, but they were undoubtedly also used for topographic maps.

After in June of 1909 the triangulation of Aruba and Bonaire was completed, the further surveying of the islands was entrusted to Jonckheer. Immediately in June of 1909 he began surveying Aruba (Werbata 1909).

The work of Werbata and his coworkers and successors resulted in six topographic maps that were generally all referred to with the term “Werbata maps”. This standard term is incorrect, since Werbata was only involved in the terrain surveying of the maps of Curaçao and Willemstad, the triangulation was done by Pliester and Lens. Aruba and Bonaire were surveyed by student surveyor W.A. Jonckheer on the basis of triangulation by L. Lens. Because land surveying to a considerable extent determines the appearance of maps, it would actually be better if the series would in future be referred to as “Werbata-Jonckheer maps”.


Topographische kaart van Bonaire in 10 bladen / [triangulation L. Lens 1909, terrain surveying W.A. Jonckheer 1911-1912]. – Scale 1:20.000. – [The Hague : J Smulders & Co., 1915] . 1 map series in 10 sheets : in colour ; 46 x 46 cm per sheet.

SRC: International Symposium on “Old Worlds-New Worlds”: The History of Colonial Cartography 1750-1950. Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands, 21 to 23 August 2006. The Werbata-Jonckheer maps, The first topographic maps of the Netherlands Antilles, 1911-1915. By Peter van der Krogt. Faculty of Geosciences, University of Utrecht.

©2012 Olivier Douvry/GlobeDivers

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