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DE FER, Nicolas

Les Costes de France, sur l'Ocean & sur la Mer Méditerranée & c. avec leurs Fortifications

N. de Fer, sur le Quay des Orloges, Paris?, 1695
Oblong quarto (285 x 365 mm.), two volumes in one, full contemporary calf, ornate gilt panelled boards with floral corner features, upper cover embossed with title and royal fleur de lis, spine with raised bands to the spine, each compartment with ornate gilt floral decoration, original marbled endpapers. With ornate engraved title of ships in harbour repaired, typographic title printed in red and black, 25 maps (1 folding repaired); typographic title to second volume printed in red and black and a further 14 engraved maps (the last two with 4 town plans each), 39 maps in total, the whole in early outline colour, with some toning and water stains, otherwise in original condition.
A very rare sea atlas by Nicolas de Fer (1646-1720) of the coasts of France, Spain and Portugal. De Fer was first apprenticed to Louis 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.This is his first published atlas. The work was first published by Sebastien Cramoisy in 1634 with just 29 charts, under the title ‘Cartes Générales et Particulières de Toutes les Côtes de France’, with charts after Christophe Tassin. After the ten-year royal privilege expired, Tassin sold the plates to Nicolas Berey and Antoine de Fer who expanded the detail on the charts considerably. Nicolas de Fer took over the family firm from 1687 and grew it into a flourishing business. A first edition under Nicolas de Fer’s editorship, with many modifications to the plates, appeared in Paris in 1690, and was here re-edited again in 1695.It was originally conceived in response to the rise in interest and popularity of Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban’s systems of fortifications. The engraved title page is engraved by Jan van Vianen and replaces that found in the 1690 edition by Nicolas Guérard. The folding general chart bears outlines of the sectional charts. The collation matches that of the British Library example (M.Fer 1a) with the exception of the six plates listed there as numbers 32-37 which are here found with slightly different pagination up to ‘Mm’. The final two plates each comprise 4 plans or views of fortified coastal towns of the Mediterranean: Marseille, St Tropez, Toulon, Ville Franche and Fort de Brigançon, Veue de Nice, Antibes, and a plan of Nice. Despite the Paris imprint, Shirley suggests that this might be a Dutch contrafacture. A brief examination of illustrations found of the 1690 edition and the later Dutch edition by Pierre Mortier appears to confirm that. Pastoureau Fer VIII B (calling for 32 charts); not in Phillips; Shirley BL M.FER-1a.
Stock number: 10639

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