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Description

Remarkable 4-sheet Map Illustrating the Routes of Early Pacific Exploration and the Manilla Galleon Trade

Chatelain's "very curious map" is one of the most spectacular examples of the marriage between cartography and graphic art.  Richly decorated in the tradition of Dutch cartography, this map extends from eastern Asia to western Europe, with primary emphasis on the Pacific Ocean and the Americas.

This 4 sheet example of the map was published by Henri Abraham Chatelain (1684-1743), a Huguenot pastor of Parisian origins. Chatelain proved a successful businessman, creating lucrative networks in London, The Hague, and then Amsterdam. This "very curious" map was included in the sixth volume of the seven-volume Atlas Historique (see the instructions to the binder in the upper right corner), published between 1705 and 1720. This encyclopedic work was devoted to the history and genealogy of the continents, discussing such topics as geography, cosmography, topography, heraldry, and ethnography. Although published anonymously, it was apparently compiled by Chatelain or his family, and the text was contributed to by Nicolas Gueudeville, a French geographer.

Based upon an extremely rare 10 sheet map by Nicolas De Fer published in 1713, the map provides an amazing graphical depiction of the age of discovery and the character of the New World. At the center, just under the title, nine medallions chronicle the history of exploration. At top left the Genoese, Christopher Columbus, who first brought definitive news of the Americas to Europe. Next is Amerigo Vespucci, a Florentine, whose name was to grace both of the newfound continents. The Portuguese Magellan is also included for his circumnavigation round the world, the first, and his successful navigation of the Straits that would bear his name and which provided entrance into the Pacific Ocean. The top row is completed by the Dutchman Guillaume Schouten, who, along with his partner Isaac Le Maire, discovered an alternative route into the Pacific to Magellan's, the Straits of Le Maire.

The next row of navigators includes Olivier du Nord, the first Dutchman to circumnavigate the world. Another Dutchman also makes the cut (remember the origin of the mapmaker); Jacques l'Hermite led a squadron that sacked Callao and then completed the circuit round the globe although, like Magellan, l'Hermite died en route. Both men charted and named islands near Cape Horn. Also at this level is the first Englishman to circumnavigate, Francis Drake.

In the final row is William Dampier-Englishman, navigator, author, and sometime pirate. Dampier is included not so much for his discoveries as for his fascinating publications and voyage experiences. In his career, Dampier circled the globe three times, the first person to do so. The final medallion shows the only Frenchman in the group, Robert Cavallier de la Salle, who explored southeast North America and the Great Lakes region. All the men represent great navigational skill and widened European understanding of the regions depicted on this map, i.e. the New World and the world's largest ocean. Their tracks, along with the Manila-Acapulco route, are also marked on the globe, allowing readers to see how far Europeans had managed to sail by the early eighteenth century.

The marginal vignettes range from narrative scenes depicting colonial economies based on beaver, cod, and sugar, to geographic insets providing large-scale maps of significant locations, as well as numerous cities and towns. Starting in the upper left corner, between Asia and North America, De Fer's busy beavers build a neat dam with Niagara Falls in the background. Next to this scene is another showing indigenous peoples hunting. Farther east, a cartouche show a fishing colony in northeast North America, while the Strait of Gibraltar is depicted in the upper right corner. The interior of Africa contains a plan of the fort at the Cape of Good Hope and a view of the Cape itself.

Practically the entire bottom portion of the map is a series of rich illustrations depicting various aspects of life in the New World. In the far left is an inset map of the Ladrone Islands, the resting point for sailors who braved the crossing to Asia from America. Next is another inset map, this time of the Darien peninsula, which was the site of much speculation as a site of a possible colony and a convenient crossing point for goods (and pirates). Next are several pictures: llama herding in Peru, turtle hunting, funeral and marriage practices of Canada, indigenous dancing, mining, the Grand Temple of Mexico, farming, and a human sacrifice by the Aztecs. Interwoven in these images are more inset maps: the Port of Acapulco, the Mississippi Delta, the Port of Callao, Mexico City, and Conception Bay. Maps of Veracruz, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, and Rio de la Plata fill the bottom right corner, adorned with more illustrations of life in Mexico, including the discovery of Vera Cruz by Cortez in 1519, mining at Potosi, and a man running from a crocodile. Together, the illustrations and insets provide a feast for the eyes, but an encyclopedia of information as well.

Geographically, the map offers several interesting features. Although California is depicted as an island on this map, there is a notation indicating that some Europeans believe it is attached to the mainland, making this one of the first European maps to question the myth of California as an island as depicted on many Dutch and English maps since the 1630s. Like De Fer, Chatelain includes the Strait of Anian separating Anian from North America, a nod to the Northwest Passage. Between Asia and America Chatelain copied De Fer's inclusion of both Compagnie Land and the island of Jesso, both mythical landforms that were common ways to fill the unknown northern Pacific.

The most noteworthy feature is the depiction of Australia, New Zealand and Terre de Quir. The map, following De Fer, shows a continuous southern coastline of Australia running fromTerre d'Edels and Terre de Leuwin, regions discovered by the Dutch in the early seventeenth century, to the west coast of New Zealand. This suggests one continuous land mass extending nearly eleven degrees. The nearly parallel northern coastline of Australia also extends nearly eleven degrees, trailing off into blank space which De Fer had filled with a title cartouche.

This configuration is not common to other maps of the period and shows just how much leeway cartographers had to make coastlines out of vague, disparate reports. Rather than connect New Guinea and Australia, as many of their contemporaries did, Chatelain and De Fer revived the memorials of Pedro Fernandez de Quiros, who sailed to the western Pacific three times in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. Quiros claimed to have found a paradise where he wanted to found a great city, Nueba Heruslaem, which would link the Spanish Empire from Acapulco to Manila. Maps following in the wake of Quiros' memorials, which circulated widely in manuscript and print, affected cartographers, who varied in the degree to which they integrated his reports.

Rarity

The original 10 sheet map is extremely rare on the market.  The 4 sheet Chatelain edition appears more frequently, but rarely in such exceptional color and condition.

Henri Chatelain Biography

Henri Abraham Chatelain (1684-1743) was a Huguenot pastor of Parisian origins. Chatelain proved a successful businessman, creating lucrative networks in London, The Hague, and then Amsterdam. He is most well known for the Atlas Historique, published in seven volumes between 1705 and 1720. This encyclopedic work was devoted to the history and genealogy of the continents, discussing such topics as geography, cosmography, topography, heraldry, and ethnography. Published thanks to a partnership between Henri, his father, Zacharie, and his younger brother, also Zacharie, the text was contributed to by Nicolas Gueudeville, a French geographer. The maps were by Henri, largely after the work of Guillaume Delisle, and they offered the general reader a window into the emerging world of the eighteenth century.