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The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden‚Äč
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UNITED KINGDOM
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DE L’ISLE, Guillaume

Atlas Nouveau, Contenant Toutes Les Parties Du Monde, Ou Font Exactment Remarquees les Empire Monarchies, Royaumes, Etats, Republiques &c.

Jean Covens & Cornelis Mortier sur le Vijgendam, Amsterdam, 1733-[c.40]
Folio (535 x 345 mm.), full thick contemporary calf yap boards, ribbed spine with very ornate gilt compartments, with calf gilt title affixed, spine worn at the head and tail with some loss, upper board with light stain, original endpapers and joints. With ornate engraved allegorical title engraved by Romain de Hooghe, typographic title in red and black with vignette, additional title with vignette to ‘Introduction a la Geographie’, Preface, pp. (6), 32, with 97 double-page and folding engraved maps, all in early outline colour excepting the plan of Paris, with 2-page manuscript index on front free endpaper, in very good condition.
In the eighteenth century the firm of Covens & Mortier was ‘the most important Dutch publishing house in the field of commercial cartography and possibly the biggest contemporary map-trading house worldwide’ (Van Egmond). The firm was founded by Pierre Mortier (1661-1711) in 1685, it would survive to 1866. In 1706 he moved into a new building in the Vijgendam in Amsterdam. On Pierre’s death in 1711 he was succeeded by his widow Amelia (c.1666-1719) and his brother David Mortier who returned (1673-c.1728) from London. This was until Pierre’s son Cornelis took over in 1721 in partnership with his brother-in-law Johannes Covens. It has been estimated that the firm owned some 5,000 copperplates and produced numerous atlases, some of which have not yet been located.

One of the most important titles was the Atlas Nouveau with maps derived from the great French cartographer Guillaume de L’Isle. It was first issued in the mid-1720s with about 50 maps. It consisted of those produced by Pierre Mortier, expanded and rounded off by the firm. This atlas contained maps solely produced by the family, unlike many other of their titles which consisted of plates acquired from other sources. Over the years the atlas expanded considerably in content. Standard issue examples contained a printed index of the contents. Expanded versions often contain a manuscript index, as here. The earliest printed title page is dated 1730, this example is 1733 which according to Koeman was accompanied by 75 maps.

Here the previous sparce regional content is enhanced somewhat. Its compilation can be guessed from the dates on some maps. The five-sheet map of the Cours du Po is dated 1735. The pair of the poles is dated 1738 and that of Europe and America are dated 1739. The manuscript index lists 96 maps, number 52 consists of two sheets so the true number is 97 maps. The next regular edition of the atlas is 1741 when the revised index of 107 maps is so dated. Provenance: Sotheby’s 13 November 2003 lot 383; private English collection. Refer Koeman (1967-70) C & M 5, pp. 45-62; refer Shirley BL T.Cov 1b; Tooley Dictionary (1999-2004); Van Egmond (2002) Imago Mundi 54 pp. 67-86; Van Egmond (2019) ‘Covens & Mortier’, in History of Cartography volume 4, pp. 320-2.
Stock number: 10104

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