In 1577, at age 63, Adriaen Coenensz from Scheveningen ( 1514 - 1587 ) a Dutch fish merchant and auctioneer of sea fish and also amateur ichthyologis started working on his Fish Book.
In three years, he gathered all information he could find on the sea and its coasts, coastal waters, fishing grounds and marine animals. He described them expertly in more than 800 pages. Coenensz got his information from his own practise: he was a Scheveningen fisherman and auctioneer and, later on, wreck master of Holland, so that every strange creature that washed ashore was brought to him for inspection. His reputation as expert on marine matters grew thanks to the connections he made as a self-educated man with academics at The Hague and Leiden, who gave him learned works on the sea on loan.
Coenensz copied extracts from them into his Fish Book. Coenensz turned almost every page into a separate work of art by painting borders and frames around the watercolour illustrations he added to the texts.
He must have realised the special character of his book; in the Leiden Court of Law's journal for 1583 a note is found saying that Coenensz has applied for permission 'to show his book and his collection of dried fish specimens at the approaching fair and the feast of the relief of Leiden (3 October), receiving from each person a penny, and from those who want to see the book a farthing'.
Coenensz turned his knowledge into profit.
On the basis of this manuscript, Coenensz produced another book a couple of years later. This book, the Whale Book, is now kept at Antwerp. A third manuscript, also with drawings of whales, is preserved in Cologne.