Sign In

- Or use -
Forgot Password Create Account
This item has been sold, but you can enter your email address to be notified if another example becomes available.

Scarce map of North America, credited to Jean Baptiste Nolin, one of the most important French mapmakers at the end of the 17th and beginning of the 18th Century.

The map shows a fine snapshot of North America at the beginning of the 19th Century, incorporating a number of early cartographic myths and misconceptions.

The map shows the course of the Mississippi River, shortly after it had been significantly revised and improved by Guillaume De L'Isle.

The Longue River and Gnacsitares are shown, based upon the reports of Baron Lahontan.

California is no longer an island, following the model of Guillaume De L'Isle's map of North America.

Florida is depicted as an archipelago. The Great Lakes are very well delineated for the period.

Of considerable interest, Nolin tentatively toys with the idea of two possible inland waterways from the Northwest Coast of America, a forerunner to the Sea of the West and River of the West concept which would dominate the debates of the French Royal Academy of Sciences from the 1750s to the 1770s.

This map is scarce on the market. This is the first example we have ever seen on the market.

Condition Description
Minor tear, expertly repaired on verso, at the left side of the map.
Jean-Baptiste Nolin Biography

Jean-Baptiste Nolin (ca. 1657-1708) was a French engraver who worked at the turn of the eighteenth century. Initially trained by Francois de Poilly, his artistic skills caught the eye of Vincenzo Coronelli when the latter was working in France. Coronelli encouraged the young Nolin to engrave his own maps, which he began to do. 

Whereas Nolin was a skilled engraver, he was not an original geographer. He also had a flair for business, adopting monikers like the Geographer to the Duke of Orelans and Engerver to King XIV. He, like many of his contemporaries, borrowed liberally from existing maps. In Nolin’s case, he depended especially on the works of Coronelli and Jean-Nicholas de Tralage, the Sieur de Tillemon. This practice eventually caught Nolin in one of the largest geography scandals of the eighteenth century.

In 1700, Nolin published a large world map which was seen by Claude Delisle, father of the premier mapmaker of his age, Guillaume Delisle. Claude recognized Nolin’s map as being based in part on his son’s work. Guillaume had been working on a manuscript globe for Louis Boucherat, the chancellor of France, with exclusive information about the shape of California and the mouth of the Mississippi River. This information was printed on Nolin’s map. The court ruled in the Delisles’ favor after six years. Nolin had to stop producing that map, but he continued to make others.

Calling Nolin a plagiarist is unfair, as he was engaged in a practice that practically every geographer adopted at the time. Sources were few and copyright laws weak or nonexistent. Nolin’s maps are engraved with considerable skill and are aesthetically engaging.

Nolin’s son, also Jean-Baptiste (1686-1762), continued his father’s business.