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Antique Maps of North America to 1700

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Mortier Carolina
Pierre Mortier. "Carte General de la Caroline. Dresse sur les Memoires le plus Nouveaux Par Le Sieur S..." Amsterdam: P. Mortier, ca. 1696. 22 1/4 x 18 1/2. Engraving. Full original hand-color. Excellent condition. Cumming, Southeast, no. 120.

An attractive and colorful map of the Carolinas alleged by Pierre Mortier to be derived from the work of Nicolas Sanson. The son of French parents, Mortier was born in France but lived and worked in Amsterdam (1661-1722). A bookseller and publisher from about 1685, he entered into the map-trade in 1690, and soon became known as a publisher of some of the finest maps of the period, including an atlas of maps said to be based on Sanson. It appears from this map and others, however, that Mortier was sometimes simply using Sanson's name "Sieur S..." in order to give his maps more authority. For instance, this map is closely copied from a map drawn well after Sanson's death in 1667, the Thornton-Morden-Lea map of circa 1685. This is the first map of the Carolinas to be printed outside of England, and was included as part of Pierre Mortier's Suite de Neptune François.

Whatever its antecedents, this is a striking and most interesting map of the coastal region extending from Outer Banks to northern Florida. The map generally follows the coastal geography of the Gascoyne map of 1682 rather than the Lederer geography that was more common. Settlements, rivers and extensive coastal soundings are indicated, and the map is brightly colored with pastel shades. An inset of the Charlestown area is included in the lower right corner. This inset is one of the few maps which identifies old and new Charleston as well as plantations up the Ashley River. An unusual and desirable map. $6,000

Mortier America
Pierre Mortier. "Carte Nouvelle De L'Amerique Angloise Contenant La Virginie, Mary-Land, Caroline, Pensylvania Nouvelle Iorck, N: Iarsey N: France, et Les Terres Nouvellement Decouerte. Amsterdam: P. Mortier, 1698(?). 23 1/4 x 35 3/4. Engraving. Excellent, original hand color. Excellent condition.

A striking, large sized map of the eastern part of North America, allegedly derived by Mortier from the work of Nicolas Sanson, though there is no evidence other than the title attribution that this geographical conception was ever held by Sanson. This map is wonderful in its illustration of the various geographic misconceptions of the late seventeenth century. Interestingly, it is one of the few maps to show the Mississippi River entering the western end of the Gulf instead in the middle as it actually does. This feature appeared on maps for only about 30 years, the result of a hoax perpetrated by La Salle in an attempt to make a settlement at the mouth of the river look strategically important-in being near to the Spanish ports in Mexico-thus lending added weight to his plan of developing a French Empire along the great North American inland waterways. Also shown are 'Ashley Lake,' the 'Savana,' and the 'Desert Arenosa,' the three notorious errors derived from the reports of John Lederer.

There are myriad other interesting geographic oddities of the period which appear on the map, especially in the mid-west region. The Great Lakes are depicted essentially the same as on the map of 'the English Empire' by Robert Morden, 1695(?), and these two maps are the first to show one of the most mysterious geographic mistakes in the mapping of America, viz. the prominently illustrated mountain range running through the Michigan peninsula and down all the way into Florida. While the connection of the Michigan chain with Florida was soon severed, the mountains in the peninsula appeared on maps even into the nineteenth century. The origin of this chain is still a puzzle that continues to baffle cartographic scholars. All in all, a fascinating document showing the state of 'knowledge' of North America at the end of the seventeenth century. $4,800


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