Fine example of Covens & Mortier's spectacular map of Florida, the Gulf Coast, Texas, Central America and part of Cuba.
The present state of the map includes 4 inset maps, covering Vera Cruz, Havana, Porto Bello and the Isthmus of Panama, replacing the inset map showing the Island of St. Jean, off the coast of Vera Cruz. Perhaps even more interesting is the completely re-engraved section of the map to the east of the Orinoco River. The entire coastline has been re-engraved to show Berbice and Dutch Suriname, with the coastline, river courses and place names radically altered, which may reflect the brief period during the War of Spanish Succession when the French took the Colony of Berbice. In November 1712, Berbice was briefly occupied by the French under Jacques Cassard, as part of the War of the Spanish Succession. The Van Peere family, which had founded the Colony in 1627, did not want to pay a ransom to the French to free the colony, and in order to not let the colony cede to the French, the brothers Nicolaas and Hendrik van Hoorn, Arnold Dix, Pieter Schuurmans, and Cornelis van Peere, paid the ransom in October 1714, thereby acquiring the colony.
The map shows the description of routes of Spanish galleons routes from Porto-Bello / Cartagena and Vera Cruz to La Havana, and then to Spain. The map explains that the galleons crossing the Atlantic Ocean would first stop in Rio Hacha (at present East Colombia) to announce their arrival, in order to prepare "the Treasures of the King". The legend adds the following: "The galleons usually remain 60 days in Cartagena and then make their way to Porto-Bello where they stay another 10 days before heading back to Cartagena. They stay there a short period of time before heading to La Havana, in order to meet the Fleet. This Fleet, consisting of a few ships, heads to Vera-Cruz in order to gather goods in that country." Other comments describe the route from Vera-Cruz to Spain.
A large engraving on the right of the map shows Indian miners extracting gold and silver in the mountains, while beneath colonists pack gold bars and jewels into a treasure chest on the shore. A naval battle between the French and Dutch navies is depicted at the bottom of the sheet. A rather curious illustration as no similar significant encounter of that type is registered in the Americas, in spite of Dutch and English, who were indeed allies during that war, fighting against France and Spain.
The four insets which appear on this map are largely identical to 4 of the 5 insets which appear on Hendrik De Leth's Carte Nouvelle de la Mer du Sud. /gallery/detail/38553. The inclusion of these 4 vignettes provided additional details for the 4 primary Spanish ports visited by the Spanish Galleons, with the inset of Panama extending east to include Cartagena, the fourth of the major ports ( along with Havana, Vera Cruz and Porto Bello).
The map is a curious amalgam of cartographic information along the Gulf Coast. The source of the Mississippi appears near Corpus Christie, a vestige of La Salle and Franquelin's work in the early 1680s and thereafter followed by Rossi, Coronell, Roillard, De Fer and Morden in the 1690s. However, the eastern Gulf and Florida configuration follows Mount & Page's Chart of the Bay of Mexico, eschewing the archipelago of Florida, which was later followed by Moll in 1715 and later Popple.
A remarkable feature of the map is the enormous, superbly detailed and designed vignette showing full-scale naval battle between the French and Dutch navies. Indian laborers are shown mining gold and silver in the mountains, while on the shore below Europeans pack gold bars and jewels into a treasure chest. The route followed by the Spanish gold and silver fleets is shown, and there is an inset in top right of St. Jean e Lucu offshore the coast of Vera Cruz.
Florida is called Tegeste Province on the map.
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.
Pierre, or Pieter, Mortier (1661-1711) was a Dutch engraver, son of a French refugee. He was born in Leiden. In 1690 he was granted a privilege to publish French maps in Dutch lands. In 1693 he released the first and accompanying volume of the Neptune Francois. The third followed in 1700. His son, Cornelis (1699-1783), would partner with Johannes Covens I, creating one of the most important map publishing companies of the eighteenth century.