Moll's map of the Isle of California is one of the more remarkable maps from Moll's System of Geography, capturing a tremendous amount of detail for a smaller format map. California is shown as an island, with over a dozen place names. The Straits of Anian, projecting a NW passage to the Atlantic, is also shown. The cartography of the Southwest is remarkable, if for not other reason than the certainty of the detail stands in stark contrast with just how little was actually known about the region. The extent of the Missouri River is especially interesting in this regard. A note at the source of the Mississippi states that the Artes of France are cut into this tree. A northern Recolet Mission lis also shown in the same region. Many Indian Tribes and Villages, early French and English Forts and Settlements in the Great Lakes regions and other features are shown. The detail of the map is extraordinary, given its size. Wheat 81; Wagner 487; McLaughlin 144.
Herman Moll (c. 1654-1732) was one of the most important London mapmakers in the first half of the eighteenth century. Moll was probably born in Bremen, Germany, around 1654. He moved to London to escape the Scanian Wars. His earliest work was as an engraver for Moses Pitt on the production of the English Atlas, a failed work which landed Pitt in debtor's prison. Moll also engraved for Sir Jonas Moore, Grenville Collins, John Adair, and the Seller & Price firm. He published his first original maps in the early 1680s and had set up his own shop by the 1690s.
Moll's work quickly helped him become a member of a group which congregated at Jonathan's Coffee House at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill, where speculators met to trade stock. Moll's circle included the scientist Robert Hooke, the archaeologist William Stuckley, the authors Jonathan Swift and Daniel Defoe, and the intellectually-gifted pirates William Dampier, Woodes Rogers and William Hacke. From these contacts, Moll gained a great deal of privileged information that was included in his maps.
Over the course of his career, he published dozens of geographies, atlases, and histories, not to mention numerous sheet maps. His most famous works are Atlas Geographus, a monthly magazine that ran from 1708 to 1717, and The World Described (1715-54). He also frequently made maps for books, including those of Dampier’s publications and Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. Moll died in 1732. It is likely that his plates passed to another contemporary, Thomas Bowles, after this death.