Full color example of Nicolas De Fer's rare map of the Caribbean.
De Fer's map of the Caribbean is a fine adaptation of Guillaume Delisle's 1701 Carte des environs du Missisipi. The map shows a well-formed Mississippi Delta and Gulf Coast and locates La Salle's fort ('Fort de Francois') on Matagorda Bay, Texas ('Baye de St. Louis et de St. Bernard').
Unlike most maps of the period, including Delisle's famous Carte de la Louisiane (1718), De Fer's displays Florida correctly as a peninsula rather than as an archipelago, as first depicted by Thomas Nairne in 1711.
The working relationship of premier cartographers Delisle and De Fer is not yet fully understood, but both were in the service of the King, had access to official archives, apparently shared and exchanged information, and were also competitors in the business of selling maps.
De Fer's map is a seminal map of the Gulf Coast, based upon information obtained from the War of Spanish Succession and other contemporary sources. The map is considerably rarer than De L'Isle's contemporary map and more focused on the Caribbean and Gulf Coat regions.
De Fer's maps of the region were some of the most influential and important of the era.
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.