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First state of Samuel de Champlain's rare map of Canada or New France, which appeared in Champlain's Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain Xaintongeois, Capitaine ordinaire pour le Roy . . . (Paris, 1613 ), one of the most important maps of the first part of the 17th Century.

Champlain's work included two highly important maps. The present map, which covers a much larger geographical area than Champlains' 2-sheet map, is noteworthy for its inclusion of both the discoveries of Champlain's and Henry Hudson's discoveries to the north, as first recorded by Hessel Gerritsz in 1612 in his Beschryvinghe van der Samoyeden landt Tartarien. It is the first map to accurately depict the region from Hudson Bay, Baffin Bay and Davis Straits in the north to Ohio and New England in the south.

Champlain's general map has been a source of great interest. The definitive study of the map was done by Conrad Heidenreich and Edward Dahl, in The Two States of Champlain's Carte Geographique, published in Volume 16, Number 1 of Cartographica . . . (University of Toronto Press, June 1979). In the article, the authors conclude that the map was a last minute inclusion in the official account of his voyages, prepared specifically to integrate Hudson's discoveries (and the discoveries of other English explorers in the north), in order to provide the broader geographical context of Champlain's discoveries in the interior of the region and to the south. As noted by Heidenreich & Dahl:

The . . . Carte geographique exists in two states. Its basic outline is a fusion of Champlain's own data, collected between 1603 and 1611, and a map of Henry Hudson's discoveries, the Tabula Navtica, published by Hessel Gerritsz between 1612 and 1613. . .

Of the two states, the undated state (State 1; Figure 2) is incomplete, the scale is unfinished and the date and author are not given. The map shows no evidence of alterations and in fact has a number of errors. The legend however contains a number of places not known to Champlain until the summer of 1613, and symbols for these do not appear on the map itself (See Appendix). In fact, except for the legend, the map depicts only information Champlain had in 1612, albeit after publication of Hudson's Discoveries.

On this topic, Burden states:

This very rare map accompanies the second published work of Samuel de Champlain in 1613. Heidenreich and Dahl argue that it was almost certainly prepared in the previous year. . . Probably after finishing the larger map, Champlain acquired knowledge of Hudson's discovery of [Hudson] Bay . . . This would undoubtedly have been Hessel Gerritsz work published in 1612. Seeing the possibilities this could provide, [Champlain] had this map drawn up on a larger scale to incorporate the new bay.

The map related the numerous voyages of Champlain to 1611 and of the English further to the north. Most particularly recorded is the discovery by Henry Hudson of the bay named after him. It is noted, with the legend noticeably in English, "the bay wher hudson did winter." In this map's second state it also records Champlain's voyage during 1613 some distance up the Ottawa River.

Each of the two maps have distinct merits. This one not only depicts latitude but longitude also, something virtually never attemped before on a North American map of such detail. Champlain's acute awareness of the deviation of the compass enables him to portray the St. Lawrence River in its more correct south-west flow rather than the more usual west to east seen on maps of the period. Below it is an extensive letterpress key relating to the map, which was completely changed for the second state. (Note: Burden's conclusion that the text "was completely changed" in state 2 appears to be a misreading of Heidenreich & Dahl's article. Heidenreich & Dahl note that the POSITION of the text is different on all known examples of the map because the letter press text was added after the printing of the map, so no two copies are identical).

While the map exists in 2 states, Heidenreich and Dahl conclude that the text is otherwise identical in the book. The major substantive addition to the map is the extension of the Ottawa River to the west, as explored by Champlain in 1613. The importance of this map is perhaps best illustrated by the following passage from Heidenreich & Dahl:

Judging from the title page and description of the two maps in Les Voyages, the small Carte geographique was intended for Les Voyages. If the book left Champlain's hands sometime in September 1612, as surmised earlier, Champlain must have received Hudson's map just after that time. He then set to work trying to make a composite of his and Hudson's explorations and quickly inserted a reference to Hudson's work on the title page and table of contents of Les Voyages late in 1612. Sometime in the late fall or early winter Champlain met de Vignau who told him of his overland journey to Hudson Bay. In view of Hudson's map and what Champlain knew of the geography of the St. Lawrence Valley, the story must have sounded very plausible; so plausible, in fact, that Champlain rushed off with his map, Hudson's map and a notarized copy of de Vignau's story to get support for an exploration of this new route. Such support was not difficult to obtain, especially from Chief Justice Jeannin who was keenly interested in exploration and thoroughly familiar with Hudson's and other English explorations.

Champlain's general map is the first in a highly important sequence of general maps of the region, which continues with Champlain's map of 1616 (Burden 188), which is known in a single copy and thereafter utilized by Pierre Du Val beginning in 1653 for his Le Canada faict par Sr. Champlain. In his article on the single known example of Champlain's 1616 map (first discovered in 1953), Lawrence Wroth states:

It will be permitted us to assume that the map, faict par le Sr de Champlain, 1616, as its legend affirms, was truly the work of the great explorer and cartographer. Though not identical in every detail, its northeastern half, in geographical outline and chief features, in scale, and in size is a close copy of the printed map in CHAMPLAIN'S" Les Voyages" of 1613, entitled Carte geographique de la Nouelle franse en son vray meridiein [sic], That map extended westward from the Atlantic to a meridian running through the eastern extremity of Lake Ontario, and southward from Greenland to a point just below Cape Cod . . . For a map of 1613, it was admirably up to date as to contents, including as it did the Hudson Bay area first explored in 1610-1611 and first delineated in the map Tabula Nautica found in HESSEL GERRITSZ, "Beschryvinghe Vander Samoyeden Landt" . . .

As for the existence of two states of the map in an otherwise identical book, Heidenreich & Dahl offer the following conjecture:

On March 6, 1613 Champlain and de Vignau departed for New France leaving the Carte geographique incomplete. It is even possible that Champlain left orders not to finish the map until he returned so that he could add the new route from the St. Lawrence to Hudson Bay. While Champlain was gone [his publisher] Jean Berjon finished printing the text and needed only to print the Carte geographique, place it between pages 160 and 161 and bind the book. Impatient to get the job done, Berjon (if he printed the maps) began to pull copies of the Carte geographique leaving enough space on the bottom of the map for the inclusion of a legend at a later date. At about the same time Champlain returned with his new discoveries. Faced with writing an additional text and revising the map, he turned to the map first. He retrieved the plate, made corrections, added the Ottawa River and composed a legend. The printer, not wanting to waste the paper and effort that had already gone into the printing of the incomplete state, simply printed the legend under the existing copies he had already run off and began printing more maps from the revised place under which he printed the same legend. Les Voyages could now be assembled ready for the addition of the Quatriesme Voyage whenever Champlain got the chapter ready. Finally, sometime in 1614, the entire work was completed and published.

It is possible that the present example of the map is in fact a proof state of state 1 of the map. The parallel lines running above and below the title, fretum davis and Groenlandia are typical of proof states and are normally removed by the engraver prior to final publication of the engraved map. In addition, there is what apppears to be an extra rhumb line below la grande baye west of Newfoundland which does not appear on other examples of the map which we viewed.

The scientific exploration and mapping of New France began with the work of Samuel de Champlain, whose exceedingly rare depictions of the American Northeast are the most important and accurate 17th-century maps of the region. Champlain based his maps on his own early discoveries in New France and New England in the early 1600s and published them to accompany the accounts of his voyages. His awareness of the recent English discoveries by Hudson and others to the North also allowed him to interegrate for the first time the entire body of exploration in the region up to 1611 on a single printed map.

Champlain's explorations were the first 17th century travels to have a major effect on contemporary cartography and defined the direction of French explorations in the New World for the rest of the century. Champlain's "Carte Geographique de la Nouvelle Franse," is the explorer's first significant map of the vast area. Champlain penetrated further into the interior than any previous explorer, and the geographical discoveries that can be credited to him -- and that are recorded for the first time in this map -- are almost too numerous to name.

Champlain's maps are also credited with initiating the mapping of the Great Lakes and constitute the earliest accurate delineations of the New England coastline, preceding John Smith's map by several years. Champlain had explored this region in several voyages he made as official geographer and mapmaker to New France, and the map reaches to 40 degrees, beyond Cape Cod and Long Island, although in fact Champlain did not travel further south than the Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard region in his travels of 1605 and 1606 (the fartherest south Champlain reached prior to publication of the maps). These discoveries preceded the important voyage by Captain John Smith and Adrian Block.


The map is of the utmost rarity. There is no record of the separate map appearing on the market at auction or in a dealer catalogue in the past 30 years. Moreover, it would appear that only two complete copies of Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain have sold at auction in the last 30 years.

It should also be noted that Burden's description of the two states of the map are in error, as is his reading of the title of the first edition of the map. The title of the map is Carte geographique de la Nouvelle franse en son vray moridia, not "mondia". "Son Vray Moridia" translates to "true meridian" and was subsequently changed to "son vray meridiein" in the state 2. Burden's also state that the rhumb lines in state 2 are extended into the title, but in fact both states are identical with respect to the rhumb lines in the title.

The error in Burden resulted from Kershaw's erroneous illustration of State 1 of the map. The map illustrated by Kershaw (and by Derek Hayes in his Historical Atlas of Canada, p. 258) is in fact an image of a 1870 caricature drawing of the first edition of the map, which appeared in the second edition of O euvres de Champlain / publiées sous le patronage de l'Université Laval par C.-H. Laverdière, Québec : Imprimé au Séminaire par G.-E. Desbarats, 1870.

Kershaw's erroneous use of this 1870 image was followed in Burden's description of state 1 of the map in Burden's Mapping of North America (volume 1). This error was recently discovered in correspondence between Edward Dahl, Philip Burden and Barry Ruderman, on initiated on January 29, 2012, as a result of the acquisition and cataloguing of this copy of the map. We graciously thank Edward Dahl and Philiip Burden for their prompt and thorough consideration of this topic and invite further discussion from anyone who may review this description and have questions or comments.

Condition Description
Fine dark impression. Backed on thicker paper. Repaired tear at left, with minor loss at the neat line near 46 degrees.
Burden, 161; Church 360; Sabin 11835; Lande 116; Alden 613/30; JCB (3) II: 93; Streeter sale VI, 3630.