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Stock# 19375
Description

Rare double hemisphere map of the World, the earliest printed map to show the Bay or Sea of the West, over 30 years prior to any other recorded example of this extraordinary geographical misconception. The map is also noteworthy for its treatment of New Zealand, Australia, Baja California, the NW passasge and the land bridge between North America and Asia.

The source of the modern myth of the Bay of the West are manuscript maps by Guillaume De L'Isle, the Royal Geographer to the King of France at the end of the 17th Century and beginning of the 18th Century. There is a map in Yale's map collection, which depicts a 16th century Thames school map of North America with a large "Branch of the South Sea", which closely resembles De L'Isle's Mer de L'Ouest and may well be the source of De L'isle's idea. There are De L'Isle manuscripts in the Bibliotheque Nationale as early as 1696 (dated) that depict this cartographic myth. Interestingly, De L'Isle never depected this sea on any of his printed maps.

Among the other unique features of this map is the treatment of New Zealand, with its northernmost coastline nearly attaching itself to the Unknown Southern Continent, suggesting that New Zealand was either part of Antarctica or separated from it only by a narrow strait. On the California Coastline, there are two distinct peninsulas, which appear to be an oversized projection of Baja California with a second smaller example of Baja California to the North. we know of no other map which includes this anomaly. The treatment of Australia is also fascinating, showing a massive southern continent including all of New Guinea and neighboring Islands, the largest depiction of the Australian landmass which we have seen on a printed map.

To the north of the Sea of the West, there is also a very bold depiction of the Northwest Passage, shown as a wide open channel flowing nearly due northwest from the Sea of the West to the upper part of Hudson Bay, a most inviting feature for navigational prospects. To the west of the NW passage, we seen a nearly unbroken landmass connecting North America with the Asian continent, culminating with only a very narrow passage between the Islands of Terra De La Compagnie and the Asian mainland, perserving the known existence of a Northeast Passage with the marvelous 16th Century mythical depiction of a land bridge between North America and Asia. Lastly, the map provides a marevlous preservation of the two straits separating the Atlantic and the Pacific, the Straits of Magellan and the inclusion of a narrow Le Maire's Strait, where a small remnant of the unknown southern continent is included in order to show the southernmost water course around the tip of South America as a narrow channel.

The inclusion of the Bay of the West is based upon Nolin's rare world map. There are 3 states of the map, according to McGuirk. The states bear the imprints of Pierre Mortier, David Mortier, and the Covens & Mortier. None of the states are dated, although estimates ranges from just before 1700 to 1704-07 for the first state, with the Covens & Mortier state being offered from 1721 onwards. All of the editions are rare. It should be noted that De L'Isle sued Nolin for stealing his idea and image of the Mer de L'Ouest for his wall map (see Shirley 605). Being in another country, Mortier was not subject to French jurisdiction and was therefore not sued. Nolin lost the lawsuit, and in his future wall maps, was forced to depict a different and smaller Mer De L'Ouest which, interestingly, somewhat resembles Puget Sound.

Covens & Mortier's map is unquestionably one of the most fascinating large scale maps published in the 18th Century and one of the best examples of the depiction of cartographic myth and conjecture at the beginning of the 18th Century.

Condition Description
Old color, reinforced on verso. Minor discoloration at centerfold.
Johannes Covens Biography

Johannes Covens (1697-1774) was a Dutch geographic publisher based in Amsterdam. He is best known for his collaboration with fellow publisher Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783). Pierre Mortier the Elder (1661-1711) had obtained a privilege in 1690 to distribute the works of French geographers in the Netherlands. After his widow continued the business for several years, Cornelis took over in 1719.

In 1721, Mortier forged a partnership with Covens, who had recently married Cornelis’ sister. They published under the joint name of Covens & Mortier. In 1774, upon the death of his father, Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) took over his father’s share. In 1778, the company changed its name to J. Covens & Zoon, or J. Covens & son.

Covens II’s son, Cornelis (1764-1825), later inherited the business and brought Petrus Mortier IV back into the fold. Petrus was the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I. From 1794, the business was called Mortier, Covens & Zoon, or Mortier, Covens, & Son.

The business specialized in publishing French geographers including Deslisle, Jaillot, and Sanson. They also published atlases, for example a 1725 reissue of Frederik de Wit’s Atlas Major and an atlas, with additions, from the works of Guillaume Delisle. There were also Covens & Mortier pocket atlases and town atlases. The company profited from acquiring plates from other geographers as well. For example, the purchased Pieter van der Aa’s plates in 1730. Finally, they also compiled a few maps in house. At their height, they had the largest collection of geographic prints ever assembled in Amsterdam.

Cornelis Mortier Biography

Cornelis Mortier (1699-1783) was a Dutch publisher who specialized in geography. Cornelis’ father, Pierre Mortier the Elder (1661-1711), had obtained a privilege in 1690 to distribute the works of French geographers in the Netherlands. After his widow continued the business for several years, Cornelis took over in 1719.

In 1721, Mortier forged a partnership with Johannes Covens, who had recently married Cornelis’ sister. They published under the joint name of Covens & Mortier. Their firm was one of the largest and most successful in Dutch history and continued in business until the late-nineteenth century.

In 1774, upon the death of his father, Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) took over his father’s share. In 1778, the company changed its name to J. Covens & Zoon, or J. Covens & Son. Covens II’s son, Cornelis (1764-1825), later inherited the business and brought Petrus Mortier IV back into the fold. Petrus was the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I. From 1794, the business was called Mortier, Covens & Zoon, or Mortier, Covens, & Son.

The business specialized in publishing French geographers including Deslisle, Jaillot, and Sanson. They also published atlases, for example a 1725 reissue of Frederik de Wit’s Atlas Major and an atlas, with additions, from the works of Guillaume Delisle. There were also Covens & Mortier pocket atlases and town atlases. The company profited from acquiring plates from other geographers as well. For example, the purchased Pieter van der Aa’s plates in 1730. Finally, they also compiled a few maps in house. At their height, they had the largest collection of geographic prints ever assembled in Amsterdam.