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Antique Maps of the Western Hemisphere

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Blaeu Western Hemisphere
Willem Janszoon Blaeu. "Americae nova Tabula. Auct: Guilielmo Blaeuw." Amsterdam: W.J. Blaeu, 1631. Third state. 16 x 21 5/8. Engraving. Lovely, original hand color. Narrow margin at left, as issued, just touching neatline at bottom; some new margin added for matting. Very good condition. Latin text on verso. Burden 189.

One of the most sought-after and decorative maps of North and South America, a gem by Willem (Guilielmus) Janszoon Blaeu. Willem Blaeu (1571-1638) was the progenitor of the famous Blaeu cartographic firm of Amsterdam. He studied astronomy and sciences with Tycho Brahe, and in 1599 established a globe and instrument making business which soon expanded to include cartographic and geographic publishing. This firm was to go on to become the largest and most important cartographic publishing firms in the world, run by his sons Cornelis (until his death in 1642) and Joan. The maps issued by the Blaeu firm are known for their fine engraving, coloring and design, and have been called "the highest expression of Dutch cartographical art."

This lovely map of North and South America is typical of the work of Willem Blaeu, with an up-to-date topographical depiction surrounded by decorative borders. The geographical image is fascinating, with accuracies and inaccuracies combined in a mix that reflects the best available knowledge of the day. The general picture is very good, but many cartographic myths are represented including the fictional islands of Frisland and Brasil and the famous non-existent city of gold, El Dorado. Decoratively, the map is one of the most beautiful of the golden age of Dutch cartography. Along the top are nine vignette views of the major cities on the continent, while ten pairs of figures line the sides illustrating the dress of the local inhabitants. The decorative features continue within the map area, with numerous sailing ships and sea monsters plying the waves, as well as vignettes of natives in South America. With its intricate flourishes, fascinating ethnological and historic detail, lovely original color, this is a superb item of seventeenth century art and cartographic history. $9,500

Speed America
John Speed. "America with those parts in that unknowne worlde both people and manner of buildings Discribed and inlarged by J.S." London: Thomas Bassett & Richard Chiswell, 1676. 15 1/2 x 20 1/5. Engraving by Abraham Goos. Hand coloring. Very good condition.

A nicely colored version of Speed's map of the Americas, issued in the 1676 edition of his atlas. Speed is well known for his county maps of Great Britain, but in his Prospect of the World he issued fine maps of other parts of the globe, many of which were decorated with illustrations of native costumes and principal cities of the areas shown. This map of the western hemisphere is the most famous of this type, with views of eight cities in the Americas, as well as ten depictions of natives from the various regions, including the northern, middle and southern parts of the eastern coast of North America.

These superb decorative and historical vignettes provide a perfect frame for Speed's interesting cartographic rendering of the Americas. Considerable detail is shown in South and Central America and the eastern parts of North America, including indications of the Chesapeake, Delaware and Hudson Bays. Of particular note is the depiction of California as an island. This famous geographical misconception is alleged to have originated from a manuscript map by Father Antonio Ascension, based on his misinterpretation of Juan de la Fuca's and Martin d'Aguilar's reports of their explorations of the California coast. This is the first atlas map upon which this misconception appeared and Speed's depiction of the island was thus a major contributing factor in the longevity of this notorious myth. This error actually remained the standard on most maps until well into the 18th century, and it wasn't until Ferdinand VII's royal decree that California was not an island that the isle image finally disappeared from the cartographic world.

The fascination of this map continues in the southern most part of the hemisphere, where Speed shows the latest information available. Tierra del Fuego is drawn as an island, not as part of the hypothesized southern continent, what Speed calls "The Unknowne World." The final flourishes of the map are the myriad small etched ships, sea monsters and flying fish shown in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. $8,500

Johann Baptist Homann. "Totius Americæ Septentrionalis et Meridionalis novissima repræsentio..." Nuremberg: J.B. Homann, [1710]. 19 1/4 x 22 1/2. Engraving. Original hand color. Very good condition. Tooley: 79.

An attractive map of the western hemisphere based on information from other cartographers. The information for California, is based on Sanson, but with the addition of several town names. Though the German publishers were often criticized for not keeping their maps up-to-date, here the Homann firm has updated the map to correct the earlier mistaken depiction of California as an island. The large cartouche is from De Fer's map of 1699, and the descriptive cartouche is in part copied from De Lisle's map of Canada of 1703. As is typical of German publications, some of the most interesting features of this map are its title cartouche. Exact dating of Homann maps is difficult because the founder died in 1724; nevertheless, his work and planning were recognized in subsequent productions by his son Johann Christoph Homann (1701-1730). After 1730 the imprint on the maps was changed to read, "Homann Heirs" or "Heredes," "Heretiers," "Homannischen Erben," or some such designation. Since the firm usually published composite atlases rather than uniform trade editions with printed tables of contents, exact dating of individual maps is difficult if not impossible. This map shows an excellent picture of the Americas for many Europeans in the early eighteenth century. $1,600

John Senex. "A New Map of America From the latest Observations." London: J. Senex, 1721. 19 x 21 7/8. Engraving by J. Harris. Attractive hand color. Full margins. Very good condition.

A striking example of the early eighteenth-century English view of the 'New World.' The basic outline of the continents is accurate, but California is shown as an island. This was a myth that had begun in the early seventeenth century and lasted until the middle of the eighteenth. By 1721, the leading scientific cartographers had reattached California to the mainland, but Senex remained conservative in his depiction. Besides this cartographic illusion, the map contains much other strange renderings in the interior of North America. The Great Lakes are shown in an unusual configuration, as is the Mississippi River system, the mouth of which is drawn entering the Gulf of Mexico just north of the Rio Grande. The nonexistent "Great Lake of Thongo or Thoya" is drawn in the northwestern part of the continent, and a long, wide river is shown running along the course of the Appalachian range and debouching into the Gulf of Mexico just west of the Florida panhandle! The interior of South America is somewhat better, but the map does include one of the greatest of all cartographic myths, viz. El Dorado shown on the shores of the equally non-existent Parime Lake. This delightful cartographic representation is complemented by a wonderful title cartouche filled with scenes of native Americans. $2,100

Johann Baptist Homann. "Totius Americæ Septentrionalis et Meridionalis novissima repræsentio..." Nuremberg: J.B. Homann, ca. 1730. 19 1/4 x 22 1/2. Engraving. Original hand color. Some wear and chipping in margins and a few repaired tears. Otherwise, very good condition.

A later edition of the Homann map of 1710 above. $1,250

Homann America
"Americæ Mappa Generalis." Nuremberg, Homann Heirs, 1746. 18 1/2 x 21 3/8. Engraving. Original hand color. Some creasing and wear at centerfold, as issued. Full margins. Very good condition. Lowery: 383.

An updated map of the western hemisphere by the Homann Heirs. The map shows the continent on the eve of the conflicts that would soon erupt and change the political face of North America. The then current political situation is depicted using contrasting colors. Interior waterways are exaggerated a bit, but the rendering is basically in line with current knowledge, for instance with California shown properly as a peninsula and the unknown northwestern lands left blank rather than filled in with guesswork. The Homann Heirs maps, like those of the first Homann, are especially noted for their elaborate cartouches, and this is a good example. The cartouche has two volcanoes exploding in the distance, and two pairs of Native Americans are shown in the European notion of native dress. Trade goods, local fauna and two parrots complete this delightful baroque image. $1,400

Emanuel Bowen. "A New and Accurate Map of America." From John Harris' Complete Collection of Voyages and Travels. London, 1748. 14 3/8 x 17 5/8. Engraving. Short repaired separation at top of centerfold. Otherwise, very good condition.

Emanuel Bowen was a map engraver, printer and publisher in London in the mid-eighteenth century. He achieved considerable success in this field, being appointed as engraver to both Louis XV of France and George II of Britain, and later as Geographer to the latter. He produced some of the most interesting maps of his time. Despite his royal appointments and apparent success, Bowen died in poverty in 1767. Through all the vicissitudes of his life, however, Emanuel Bowen's maps continued at a very high level of quality, as exemplified by this nicely detailed map of the American continents. "Drawn from the most approved modern Maps and Charts, and adjusted by Astronomical Observations: Exhibiting the Course of the Trade Winds both in the Atlantic & Pacific Oceans." As Bowen notes, the trade winds are noted, for this was important information in the eighteenth century for the many ships plying the trade routes in both oceans. Bowen fills each continent with much interior information, much of it quite accurate. Bowen is cautious to show only what he believed had sufficient evidence, leaving the entire northwest part of North America ("parts Undiscovered") blank except for a vaguely drawn coast with one feature: "The Supposed Straits of Annian." In the southwest Santa Fe and Alamillo are indicated, and Indian tribes are noted in various spots. The lovely title cartouche shows Native Americans, one of whom casually rests his feet on a placid alligator. $750

Bellin: Louisiana et pays voisins
Jacques Nicolas Bellin. "Carte de la Louisiane, et Pays Voisins." From Prevost d'Exiles' Histoire Generale des Voiages. Paris: Chez Didot, 1757. Engraving. 8 5/8 x 11 7/8. Very good condition.

From about 1650 to the middle of the eighteenth century, the French dominated the cartographic world, with their fine, scientifically based maps. These maps were particularly outstanding and significant for the northern interior of North America. This vast, forested region was explored throughout the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by French trappers, traders and missionaries. The information from their explorations was relayed back to Paris, where it was used by the great French cartographers to compile the finest maps of the region produced to that time.

Nicolas Bellin (1703-72), Hydrographer to the King of France, was one of the best French cartographers of the later period. His maps of North America were detailed and generally contained the latest information available. This map is somewhat anachronistic, for about the same time the British were beginning to come out with maps based on their surveys of the interior of the continent, but this map does present the French understanding of their American possessions just before they lost vast territories to the British in the French & Indian War, during which it was issued. It can be seen as a cartographic statement of French claims to the vast middle of the continent, extending from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Appalachians to the Rocky Mountains. Bellin notes all major river systems, especially the Mississippi system upon which their claims rested, and many of the French forts, including Detroit, Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh), Fort de la Presque'Isle (Erie), Sandoske, and Fort "Checagou." This is a wonderful document from the period. $675

Janvier: Western Hemisphere puzzle
Jean Janvier. "L'Amerique divisée en ses principaux Etats." Paris: Jean Lattré & Delalain, 1784. Map mounted on backing and cut into pieces to make a puzzle. Map: 18 1/2 x 26. Engraving. Original hand color. Some surface stains. A few narrow ends of pieces broken off. Overall, very good condition.

Jean Janvier was a French cartographer who worked in Paris in the latter part of the eighteenth century. Janvier's maps contained the best information available at the time, even though some of it was erroneous. This map of North and South America is a good example of this, for the information on the coastlines, islands, rivers, major cities is all excellent, yet the map features a large, non-existent lake, "Mer ou Baye De l'Ouest" in the Pacific Northwest. This large lake was a result of the mistaken belief in a Northwest Passage through the interior of the continent, and this depiction is a classic of this cartographic myth. Janvier shows the political division of the colonies of Spain, Portugal, France and England, as well as the newly formed United States, as interpreted from the French point of view. The map is nicely colored and an elaborate title cartouche graces the upper left corner. This edition of his map was, as noted in the title cartouche, updated to reflect the information gained from the voyages of Capt. James Cook. Map puzzles have a long history, but few survive intact, especially from the eighteenth century. $1,800

Robert Sayer. "America Divided Into North and South with Their Several Divisions and the Newest Discoveries." London: R. Sayer, 1789. 19 1/2 x 21 1/4. Engraving. Faint, original outline color. A few repaired tears and chips in margins, one tear just extending into map. Otherwise, very good condition.

A clearly presented map of North and South America by the English cartographic publisher Robert Sayer, probably based on a map by French cartographer D'Anville. Detail is quite good, including settlements, rivers, lakes, major political divisions, some orography, and native tribal areas. The map is quite accurate and excludes many of the cartographic fallacies of the day. Where Sayer was unsure of the reality of an alleged geographic feature, he would note "according to some" or "doubtful" or "Islands seen by the Spaniards" or some other similar phrase. Despite his care, however, the map does include as definite some other cartographic myths, including Mayda and Green Islands in the Atlantic and Lake Parima in South America, the latter non-existent place the original home of El Dorado. $525


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