Doncker's date of birth was not recorded but later estimated from his marriage certificate as 1626. Little, if anything, is known of his earlier life but three years after his marriage in 1648 he was living in the Nieuwe Brugsteeg area of Amsterdam. Here Doncker set about creating and publishing his enormous output of navigational aids. By 1647 Doncker was already a member of the Book Publishing Guild and maintained his bookshop for 50 years. Doncker set up business as a compiler and retailer of navigation charts and aids, including pilot guides, sea atlases and textbooks on the art of navigation. His charts were the most up-to-date in the second half of the seventeenth century, continuing the expertise and reputation established by his predecessors in the 50 years following the establishment of the Dutch East India Company in 1602. Unlike his contemporaries Doncker regularly corrected and improved his charts, replacing obsolete with new. This conscientious quest for highly accurate charts is reflected in the development of his sea atlas, which ran to at least 30 known editions and ceased publication in 1712. Doncker also worked closely with other well-known cartographers - Pieter Goos, the Jacobsz family (Lootsman) and Johannes van Loon - to produce a pilot guide, the Zeespiegel.
The atlas contains title, preface, World map by Cl.J. Visscher (1652), 17 charts with address of Hendrick Doncker and for the greater part dated 1658-1659, and a chart entitled "Mar di India" without address, totalling altogether 19 maps. Covering all parts of the known world, the maps are richly coloured and embellished with gold leaf, while the title of each plate is encased in a decorative cartouche. The atlas is a gentleman's library copy of the actual charts, in a reduced format, which would have been used by Dutch mariners of the day. Acquired by the Australian Government in 1909, as part of the Petherick Collection of the National Library of Australia, this is a very rare sea atlas by the Dutch cartographer, Hendrick Doncker. This copy of the 1659 edition of Doncker's sea atlas was discovered in 1980 to be the only known copy in a public collection.
Translation of page 9: Lovers of praisworthy Sea-Navigation. Just as I have manufactured, and sold, graduated arcs, angle arcs, and Davis quadrants, and have on occassion satisfied a demand for sea-charts, this has motivated and moved me to create a Sea Atlas, or Water-World, in which is shown and noted all the Sea-Coasts of the known countries of the world. But after the sea-charts are used on board of ships and differences are observed regarding present day conditions by skippers and navigators, I request that if someone has made observations that should be incorporated, or found mistakes that should be corrected in the next issue of the sea-chart, these to be handed to me or made known to me, in order to enable me to make corrections, should that be necessary, in service to all mariners. Recently, I have also published the 'New West-Indien sea-chart' according to Mercator's projection, that includes the whole of England, Scotland, and Ireland, that will be very useful and beneficial for all those who want to sail behind these islands. Also included is a chart of the whole of the Mediterranean Sea, and a large chart of Europe. No doubt that all these shall very well please the user, who shall find complete contentment and pleasure, as wished to you, by your servant Hendrick Doncker.
Text in Dutch.