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The Mapping of North America

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DE FER, Nicolas

L'Atlas Curieux

Paris, 1716-[17]
Oblong folio, two volumes (290 x 420 mm. each), in full contemporary calf, rebacked preserving the original spine, with raised bands, ornate gilt decoration to the compartments, new red calf title labels. Volume 1 with engraved title page, contents leaf, 109 engraved maps and views numbered in contemporary hand to 92 and numerous leaves of accompanying descriptive text as listed in the contents; Volume 2 with engraved title page, contents leaf, 128 engraved maps and views numbered in contemporary hand to 132 including numerous leaves of accompanying descriptive text as listed in the contents. Complete as the index calls for although nos. 32 of Forest de St. Germain from another copy and 57 of Rouen is inserted loose, otherwise a good example of the atlas.
Nicolas de Fer (1646-1720) had worked quietly in the field of maps for a while. He was first apprenticed to Nicolas Spirinx, the engraver, at the age of twelve. His first known published work was of the Languedoc Canal in 1669. From 1690 he began publishing his own books such as ‘Les Forces de l’Europe’, and the ‘Petit et Nouveau Atlas’ in 1697. His first wall map, in 1694, was naturally of the world, and this was followed by a set of four continents.

In 1700 Nicolas de Fer’s significant production of maps continued with a further reduced format, quarto-sized atlas entitled ‘L’Atlas Curieux ou le Monde’. The atlas was issued in six annual parts between the years 1700 and 1705, each containing between twenty-eight and thirty-eight maps. It was reissued under the title ‘Suite de l’Atlas Curieux’, 1714-16, with further new plates. At de Fer’s death in 1720 the atlas was being issued in two parts, which curiously were split between the two sons-in-law Guillaume Danet and Jacques-François Benard. This example most closely follows Pastoureau De Fer 1D although possibly an early issue. Pastoureau states that there is at least one map dated 1717, the first plate of the spheres is so dated but that of Hungary (no. 246) is not present here, another plate is in its place. The A. E. Nordenskiöld Collection (1979) no. 72 (later issue); Pastoureau (1984) pp. 167-84, Fer I D.
Stock number: 8915

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