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Book/Printed Material Adriaen Coenen's "Fish Book". Vis booc, 1577-1579

About this Item


  • Adriaen Coenen's "Fish Book".

Other Title

  • Vis booc, 1577-1579


  • In 1577, at the age of 63, Adriaen Coenen, from the Dutch fishing port of Scheveningen, started his Visboek (Fish book). Over a period of three years he collected all kinds of information about the sea, coasts and coastal waters, fishing grounds, and marine animals, in all producing 410 expert pages. Throughout his life Coenen had earned his living from the sea, as a fisherman, salvage master, and from 1574 as official fish auctioneer at Scheveningen. Coenen made nearly every page into a miniature work of art by framing his texts and illustrations with borders, edges and cartouches painted in watercolor. Coenen must have realized the special value of his book, as appears from the minutes of the court sessions in Leiden from 1583. They contain a note indicating that Coenen asked permission for his book and his collection of dried fish "to be shown at the coming free annual fair and the festival for the relief of the city [3 October], receiving from every person a duit (a small coin) and from those wanting to see the book an oortgen (worth two duiten)." In other words, looking at his book cost twice as much as viewing his dried fish. On the reverse of folio 11, Coenen wrote the following lines about his book: "Whoever reads or studies it / May spread the word to / Another that he may see and hear." One of the marvels of the sea that viewers could admire in the work was entitled "The true Portrait and size of this whale that has been captured on the ij of July AD m.d.lxxvij," painted in watercolor on two pages. Coenen had drawn this whale after an engraving that had appeared in the same year (1577). The drawing and the caption record a newsworthy event: a whale that was cast ashore in the shallow waters of the Scheldt River near Doel, north of Antwerp, and which attracted much attention. A few years later Coenen made a second book, based on this manuscript, which is now in Antwerp; a third, also with drawings of whales, is part of a collection in Cologne.


  • Coenen, Adriaen, 1514-1587 Creator.

Created / Published

  • [place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], [1577 to 1579]


  • -  Netherlands
  • -  Netherlands--Zuid-Holland--Scheveningen
  • -  1577 to 1579
  • -  Animals
  • -  Curiosities and wonders
  • -  Fish
  • -  Fishing
  • -  Fishing industry
  • -  North Sea
  • -  Squids
  • -  Whales


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  Original resource extent: 412 folios : paper.
  • -  Original resource at: National Library of the Netherlands.
  • -  Content in Dutch.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021668059

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Coenen, Adriaen, Creator. Adriaen Coenen's "Fish Book". [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, to 1579, 1577] Pdf.

APA citation style:

Coenen, A. (1577) Adriaen Coenen's "Fish Book". [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, to 1579] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Coenen, Adriaen, Creator. Adriaen Coenen's "Fish Book". [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, to 1579, 1577] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.