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Rare 4 sheet wall map of the World on Mercator's Projection, published in Paris by Pierre Du Val, the Geographer to the King of France, Louis XIV.

Du Val's remarkable world map highlights the primary trading routes to and from the East Indies and West Indies, along with the identification of the voyages of Jacques Le Maire (circumnavigation of 1615 and discovery of the Le Maire Strait). 

The map is filled with interesting cartographic details.  California is shown as an Island on the first Sanson model.  The details of Abel Tasman's voyage in 1643-44 are shown, most notably the incomplete Australia, and partial coast of Tasmania and New Zealand, which has been integrated into the unknown Southern Continent.

The mythical Terre de Iesso or Terre de la Compagnie is shown, a conception of a massive land between Asia and America which likely reflects a nascent understanding of the Aleutian Islands.

According to Shirley, each of the four sheets which comprise this very rare wall map were published separately. "Each sheet, as issued, originally contained its own title and key which could be trimmed off when the four sheets were joined to form a single large map" (Shirley). 

Du Val's wall map of the world may have been intended to promote the continuing search for trade routes via a Northwest Passage and/or Northeast Passage to Japan and China, both of which routes are confidentially shown, with the Northwest Passage route dated 1665.  Given the timing of the issuance of the map (first published in 1679), this may in fact be a reference to the failed voyage of Pierre-Espirity Radisson to Hudson's Bay in 1665.

Pierre-Espirit Radisson

The 1665 voyage may in fact not be completely anonymous.  It may in fact reflect information drawn by Du Val from Pierre-Esprit Radisson.  Radisson had a remarkable life as a Canadian Fur Trader and explorer, whose resume included a number of shifts of allegiance back and forth between the French and English.  At the time this map was first published in 1679, Radisson's allegiance was with France.

Born in France in the late 1630s, Radisson migrated to Canada by 1651, where he found work in the fur trade.  In 1652, he was captured by the Iriquois, but managed to culturally assimilate and survive long enough to be ransomed at Fort Orange in 1653.  Radission spent the next several years as a Jesuit Missionary in Canada.   In 1657, Radisson accompanied a joint Franco-Huron-Iroquois expedition into the territory of the Onondaga Iroquois, attempting to more thoroughly establish a Jesuit mission in the area and promote further fur trading.  The expedition ended in 1658 after rising tensions with local Iroquois caused the French to flee rather abruptly. Radisson returned to Quebec soon thereafter.

From 1658 to 1684, Radisson's primary activity was as a fur trader and explorer. Radisson spent time on the shores of Lake Superior, establishing some successful trade contacts with his partner Groseillier among the Indians before returning to Quebec on August 24, 1660. While the enterprise was successful, Radisson met with unexpected hostility from the local Governor, who attempted to lev a higher tax on Radisson.  This hostility persuaded Radisson and Groseillier to base themselves out of Boston for their next explorations.

During their 1659–1660 expedition, Radisson and Groseillier repeatedly heard reports of a  "salt sea" as an area with an abundance of good furs, which they determined must be Hudson Bay. The two determined to reach the region by sea, rather than the internal rivers.  Their first voyage to Hudson Bay was unsuccessful and they were forced to make their way back to Boston and second attempt failed to materialize the following year, though the two were invited to King Charles II's in 1665. With the King's support, they made an unsuccessful attempt in 1665 to reach Hudson's Bay, before turning back.  In September 1668, the Nonsuch landed in the Rupert river region on the shores of James Bay, where Des Groseillers used his knowledge of frontier living to build dwellings for the crew to pass the winter in. About 300 Cree Indians came up in the spring of 1669 to trade furs in exchange for European goods.

Radisson enlisted Prince Rupert of the Rhine, King Charles's first cousin to champion the Radisson-Des Groseillers project of fur trading on the shores of Hudson's Bay.   In 1670, Radisson received a royal charter giving him and his partners the exclusive rights to the land surrounding Hudson Bay, ultimately founding the Hudson's Bay Company.    

Both Radisson and Grosseiliers operated within the Hudson's Bay Company with the support of Prince Rupert and the Company's director Sir John Robinson. Radisson and Grosseiliers were successful in having the Company receive much capital from the City in order to fund its operations. As anti-French and anti-Catholic sentiment increased in England, Radisson finally left London in 1675 with Grosseiliers to reenter the service of France.

In 1677, Radisson joined the navy and to fund Jean II d'Estrées' expedition in the Franco-Dutch War to conquer the island of Tobago, winning the man's favor. Following his involvement in the war, he borrowed 100 Louis d'or from the Marshall in a failed attempt to pay to bring his wife back from Britain, and subsequently failed to regain a position in the Hudson's Bay Company, as a further result of anti-French prejudice.  In 1681 Radisson headed out to found a fort on the Nelson River under a French flag, albeit against the wishes of the French state. He did so as a means of capturing the market, fearing the construction of a British fort on the same river and thus further dominance of the bay by the Hudson's Bay Company. He recruited Grosseiliers the following year to build a more permanent base.

In the winter of 1683 he and Groseilliers went to France to deal with their legal problems.  Here they found themselves pawns in the events that led up to the Glorious Revolution. The English ambassador, Lord Preston, asked that they be punished. Compromise plans were made to send Radisson back to the Bay to pick up the remaining furs and divide the profits fairly. Lord Preston seduced Radisson back into the English service and Groseilliers returned to Quebec.

In 1684, Radisson sailed for the Hayes River in the Happy Return, where he found Groseilliers' son Jean-Baptiste conducting a brisk trade with the Indians. He talked Jean-Baptiste into the Hudson's Bay Company service and left for England in September, leaving John Abraham in charge of the fort.  

In 1685 he was made 'Superintendent and Chief Director of the Trade at Port Nelson,' where he seems to have accomplished little. In 1687 he made serious charges against the superintendent of York Factory. The HBC rejected the charges and Radisson was removed. Thereafter he lived in England on an HBC pension which was irregularly paid. He died in 1710. In 1729 the company voted ten pounds to his third wife, "she being ill and in great want."

Radisson wrote his Voyages in 1668 or 1669 in England after a storm prevented him from joining the first expedition into Hudson Bay. The original has been lost but an English translation was found among the papers of Samuel Pepys and now resides in the Bodleian Library. Its reliability as a historical source is contentious.


Du Val's map is rare on the market.  We note two examples in dealer catalogs, none since 2001.

Condition Description
4-sheets, joined.
Shirley, Mapping of the World, #489.
Pierre Du Val Biography

Pierre Duval (1618-1683) was a French geographer, cartographer, and publisher who worked in Abbeville and Paris during the 17th century. He was born in Abbeville, in northeast France. Duval was the nephew of the famous cartographer Nicolas Sanson, from whom he learned the mapmakers art. Both men worked at the royal court, having followed the royal request for artists to relocate to Paris. In addition to numerous maps and atlases, Duval's opus also includes geographic lexicons in French. Among them is the dictionary about the Opatija in France, the first universal and vernacular geographic dictionary of Europe published in Paris in 1651, and a dictionary about the ancient sites of Asians, Persians, Greeks and the Romans with their equivalent toponyms.