Fine example of De Fer's map of California, offered here with the accompanying text page from De Fer's A tlas Curieux.
De Fer's map is one of the few regional maps to focus exclusively on California during the period it was mapped as an Island, and one of the largest depictions of an insular California. Ironically, the the map is primarily a product of the information reported back from California by Father Eusebio Kino, who had arrived in Mexico as a Missionary in the late 17th Century with the intentions of confirming that California was a Peninsula, not an island. Some of Kino's earliest work included updated cartographic descriptions of the Southern portion of Baja California, as he awaited his chance to proceed north to the to source of the Sea of Cortez. This map and Scherer's maps of California and Baja California were heavily influenced by Kino, who ironically prior to the date of this map produced his first map showing CA as a peninsula.
The map was engraved by Inseln, who also engraved Father Kino's seminal map which re-attached California to the mainland. In fact, De Fer gives credit to the work of Kino as the major new source of information regarding missionary and Indian settlements in the region, along with updated geographical information about the rivers system and mountain ranges in California. On the present map, California appears with an indented northern coast and is labeled "Californias ó Carolinas." Aside from the popular misconstruction of California's geography, the de Fer map is surprisingly accurate. New Mexico is shown covered with engraved numbers from 1 to 314 which correspond to an engraved key in the top right third of the map. The key identifies the names of 314 settlements, including Santa Fe, Taos, Pecos, El Paso, and all New Mexican pueblos. Twenty-three place names on the map are new. Northern New Mexican place names and Native American pueblos are true to Pere Kino's original and reflect his minor displacement of northern villages. This is a fascinatingly detailed map of California as an island, as well as a well-documented and accurate picture of the settlement history of New Mexico and southern Arizona
Nicholas de Fer (1646-1720) was the son of a map seller, Antoine de Fer, and grew to be one of the most well-known mapmakers in France in the seventeenth century. He was apprenticed at twelve years old to Louis Spirinx, an engraver. When his father died in 1673, Nicholas helped his mother run the business until 1687, when he became the sole proprietor.
His earliest known work is a map of the Canal of Languedoc in 1669, while some of his earliest engravings are in the revised edition of Methode pour Apprendre Facilement la Geographie (1685). In 1697, he published his first world atlas. Perhaps his most famous map is his wall map of America, published in 1698, with its celebrated beaver scene (engraved by Hendrick van Loon, designed by Nicolas Guerard). After his death in 1720, the business passed to his sons-in-law, Guillaume Danet and Jacques-Francois Benard.