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Antique Maps of North America to 1700

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Jansson North East
Jan Jansson. "Nova Anglia Novum Belgium et Virginia." Amsterdam: J. Jansson, [1636]-1639. First state. 15 1/8 x 19 5/8. Engraving. Original hand color. Very good condition. French text on verso. Burden: 247; McCorkle: 636.2.

A lovely map of the eastern coast of America from Nova Scotia to the Carolinas. Detail is given of the coastline and the major bays, while the Hudson and Delaware Rivers are prominently, though not quite correctly, displayed. Further information is given of inland lakes: including Lake Champlain, shown incorrectly placed to the east of the Hudson, a large lake at the start of the Delaware, possibly one of the Finger Lakes, and two depictions of the Great Lakes. These latter depictions probably indicate Lakes Ontario and Huron, but whatever the case, they do reflect very early knowledge of the Great Lakes gleaned from the early voyages of discovery by Cartier and Champlain, and represent the first Dutch map to show lakes connected with the St. Lawrence River system. Here also is the first printed atlas map to identify "N. Amsterdam" and "Manbattes" (Manhattan). Decorative flourishes include two lovely cartouches, sailing vessels and sea monsters off the coast, and numerous rhumb lines emanating from two compass roses.

This map is the first of two versions prepared by Jansson, the second version of 1647 showing changes in the decorative elements. The year of its initial appearance, 1636 was very important for the Mercator-Hondius-Jansson publishing house because Jan Jansson was taking full control and revising not only the text but also the maps. For this map Jansson copied Johannes De Laet's 1630 map of "Nova Anglia" which was the best at that time and enlarged it while adding typically fine ornamental elements. The map was used in Latin, Dutch, French and German text editions until 1650 when Jansson's "Belgii Novi, Angliae Novae..." was produced. This latter is cited as the first of the Jansson-Visscher sequence of maps of North America, but this map is conceptually the first in that series as described by Tony Campbell's "The Jansson-Visscher Maps of New England" in The Mapping of America: 279-94. $3,800

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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