Decorative example of the second state of this detailed 2-sheet map of the British Colonies in North America, credited to Nicolas Sanson but in reality drawn directly from Robert Morden's rare New Map of the English Empire In America, first published in circa 1698 in London.
Among other noteworthy features, Burden identifies the map as "the first printed plan of an English colonial city in a non-English map." The map focuses on the British Colonies in North America. Burden notes:
The most notable feature here is the mountain range extending from the Florida peninsula northwards into Michigan. This plateau remains, although the legend found on the Morden describing [the mountain range] does not. The original source for this curious feature is unknown. . . the map's English origins are clearly seen, including the Copper Mine near present day Chicago, and Mines of Iron besides the Ohio River , both originating from Thevenot, 1681. The unusual depiction of Green Bay, the broader northern portion of the Delaware peninsula, the boundaries of Pennsylvania extending far to the north, the altered Cape Cod and the inset plan of Boston Harbor are all features found on the Morden map.
Mortier's map illustrates several popular geographical errors of the late 17th Century. The mouth of the Mississippi River is pushed far to the west, into Texas. This feature appeared on maps for only about 30 years, the result of a hoax perpetrated by La Salle in an attempt to make a settlement at the mouth of the river look strategically important-in being near to the Spanish ports in Mexico-thus lending added weight to his plan of developing a French Empire along the great North American inland waterways. Also shown are 'Ashley Lake,' the 'Savana,' and the 'Desert Arenosa,' the three notorious errors derived from the reports of John Lederer.
The three states of this map can be dated as follows:
- First state: no plate number at bottom right corner (1700)
- Second state: plate number 81 at bottom right corner (circa 1710)
- Third state: chez Jean Covens et Corneille Mortier imprint in top left and top right titles.
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.