Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

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This is one of three maps that relate to the east coast of North America in Joannes de Laet’s work. ‘This is arguably the finest description of the Americas published in the seventeenth century. Despite the fact that he drew on a large number of sources for his information, no fresh material on the area had been forthcoming for decades. Hessel Gerritsz, the author and probable engraver of the map, drew therefore on the interpretation by Claesz, c.1602, of the Jacques le Moyne cartography of Florida. Originally thought to be taken from Jodocus Hondius’ map of Virginia and Florida, 1606, this study demonstrates otherwise. One notable area of alteration is the placing of C. Francois further east into the Atlantic Ocean. Florida, as we know it today, is here called ‘Tegesta provinc’. This name, applied here for the first time, is that of a tribe of Indians living on the south-west coast. ‘Florida’ was at this time applied to a far larger region. It came to be used solely for the peninsula as Spanish Florida was squeezed south by the expansion of the English colonies.

For the rest of the map he drew upon the nomenclature of the Ortelius-Chaves map of 1584. The river delta system, however, is still confusing. The ‘Bahia del Spiritu Santo’ is often thought to refer to the mouth of the Mississippi River. Studies have questioned the assumption of this attribution. The map’s influence was quite considerable. Blaeu, Janssonius and Sanson, all followed it. There were subsequent editions in Latin, 1633, and French, 1640. In all of these there is no text on the reverse’ (Burden).

‘Considerable effort went into making the text and maps of this work the most accurate available at the time. It is arguably the finest description of the Americas published in the seventeenth century. The exhaustive research involved de Laet reading all of the published and manuscript material that he could find. For the cartographic work he had much to call on, being a director of the recently formed Dutch West India Company in charge of all Dutch interests in America and Africa. He therefore had access to the latest geographic knowledge. He also drew upon the fine talents of Hessel Gerritsz, the official cartographer to the Dutch East India Company since 1617. This was a post he attained before Willem Blaeu under whom he was apprenticed, and who was his senior by ten years. The maps were some of the first to depart from the heavier style of the Mercator and Ortelius period’ (Burden). From the ‘Nieuwe Wereldt ofte Beschrijvinghe van West-Indien …’ Burden 232; Cumming (1962) no. 34, pp. 5 & 17-18.

DE LAET, Joannes

Florida, et Regiones Vicinae

Leiden, 1630
275 x 350 mm., one small faint fox mark upper left near the border, otherwise in good condition.
Stock number: 6044
$ 3,950
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