"A Landmark" Map of the West "by a Frenchman . . . intent upon forwarding the interests of France on the Pacific Coast" (Wheat)
Finely colored separately published "Grand Paper" example of Duflot De Mofras' large map of the Western United States, Canada and Texas, is one of the scarcest and most important maps of the region published in the 19th Century.
Extending from Mount St. Elias to Acapulco in the west and from Austin Texas, Ft. Leavenworth and Hudson Bay in the east, the map is a masterpiece of contemporary observations and assiduous compilation. Wheat refers to the map as "A landmark . . . because it made these western regions known in European official circles. . . "
Duflot de Mofras was very interested in travel routes. East of Santa Fe he noted the 'Route des Chariots des Etats-Unis', and the route which would later become popularly referred to as 'The Old Spanish Trail.' Wheat states that this beautifully engraved map was often used by European cartographers as the basis for early gold-rush period maps of California and neighboring territory." Rumsey notes that Wheat neglects to mention the similarities between Duflot de Mofras' map, and the rare 1837 edition of John Arrowsmith's Map of British North America. While not a copy of the Arrowsmith, it clearly followed the Arrowsmith map in many respects.
The detail in the map and its annotations are far reaching, with a uniquely global approach to the region. Rather than focusing on the geo-political or other features of any single region, the map provides fine detail in topics as far reaching as the Russian possessions along the West Coast, the Hudson Bay Company's control and dominance of Western Canada, the independence of Texas (including the illustration of several land grants), the growing fur trade west of the Missouri River, and of course phenomenal contemporary detail in California and Oregon Territories, 5 years prior to the Gold Rush.
The map is truly a landmark. Because of the rarity and importance of De Mofras' work, the map is rare on the market, this being one of only a few separate copies offered on the market in the past 25 years.
Eugene Duflot de Mofras
In 1839, Eugene Duflot de Mofras, was assigned to the French embassy in Mexico City and instructed to visit the northwestern provinces of Mexico, report on potential commerce, observe U. S., British, and Russian interests, and determine feasibility of French posts in the region. In fact, his real mission was as much that of a spy, undertaking a reconnaissance of the West and assessing the relative strengths of the competing interests of the United States, England and Russia, in the lands then claimed by Mexico, etc.
De Mofras visited Jalisco, Colima, Sinaloa, and Sonora in 1840, then sailed from Mazatlán to Monterey. He met with commandant Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo in Sonoma, continued to Fort Ross, and returned to Monterey in July. On September 1, he sailed up the Sacramento River with A.G. Rotchev, manager of Fort Ross, to New Helvetia, where he met with John Sutter, with whom Rotchev was to initiate negotiations for the sale of the Russian fort. He later visited San Jose, Santa Cruz, and San Francisco, before traveling to the Hudson Bay Company's Fort Vancouver. On this trip, de Mofras met and talked with Charles Wilkes. He returned to San Francisco with Hudson Bay Company director Sir George Simpson, factor John McLoughlin, and U.S. agent Horatio Hale, to Monterey. On January 3, 1842, de Mofras sailed via Santa Bárbara to San Diego, before returning to Mexico.
Duflot de Mofras provided important information on its economic life, foreign involvement, and geography. He provides excellent descriptions of the Russian posts at Ross and Bodega just prior to their sale to the United States. He specifically notes Sutter's willingness to serve France, and reports on the reputed plot of Isaac Graham to overthrow Mexican government in California.
The map was issued in 2 and perhaps 3 different formats (standard paper, large paper and grand paper). The grand paper edition was advertised by the publisher in the Gazette Nationale, as being available for purchase, but at least one bibliographer commented that it was not known if any were actually produced. The example offered here would appear to be the grand paper example, the only example we have ever seen in this format.