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Fine example of De Fer's scarce large format map of the Island of St. Domingue (Santa Domingo), discovered by Columbus in 1492.

De Fer's map treats the island in extraordinary detail, with the rivers and other topographical features in the interior shown prominently, along with depictions of wild game and hunters. The outlying islands around the main island are also noted, along with the gulfs, bays and harbors around the island.

The division of the Island is noted in outline color, with a Spanish galleon off the west coast and a decorative compass rose in the top left corner. Elaborate title cartouche depicts the discovery of the island in 1492, with the plentiful bounty of the island depicted in the scale of miles cartouche.

This map appeared in a later edition of Nicolas De Fer's Atlas ou Recueil de Cartes Geographiques, first published in 1709. The work was essentially a composite atlas, with maps added and updated over the course of the next 30 years. The present example bears the imprint of Guillaume Danet, De Fer's son in law, who took De Fer's printing house following De Fer's death in 1720, along with his brother, Jacques-Francois Danet.

Nicolas de Fer Biography

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.