Striking large format map of the Nile, Egypt, the Red Sea and contiguous regions, from De Fer's Atlas ou Recueil de cartes geographiques.
De Fer's highly detailed map shows the course of the Nile River from Abyssinia through Egypt to the Mediterranean Sea. There is a large inset map along the left showing details on the Nile river in Egypt starting in Aswan in the south. The map shows the main caravan route from Lower Egypt to the west of the Nile and extending through Abyssinia. Another route is shown in Arabia connecting Mecca, Medina, and other important cities.
The geography shows the Nile River originating in Lake Tana in the Abyssinian highlands. Immediately to the east of Lake Tana is a small stream with the caption "Sources appellees les Yeux du Nil" (the source is called the eyes of the Nile), a reference to Lobo's description of two springs as the exact beginning of the Nile River.
This map by Nicolas de Fer (1646-1720), along with the earlier Nolin, Coronelli and Delisle maps, represents the beginning of a turning away from the traditional Ptolemaic view of the interior of Africa. The geography tends to follow the slightly earlier Nolin 1689, Coronelli 1691, and Delisle 1700 folio maps with their updated information. This information was based in part on Ludolfi's 1683 map of Abyssinia and the earlier works by Almeida, Paez, Lobo, and Tellez. By the time of this De Fer map, most European cartographers felt that the two Ptolemaic lakes in central Africa did not exist as a source for the Nile River.
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.