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Gerard Van Keulen's Large Format Map of Colonial America. In Spectacular Full Original Color.

First edition of Van Keulen's remarkable 2 sheet map of "Canada ou Nouvelle France," based upon De Fer's rare 4-sheet map of the French regions in North America, prepared for the French Company of the West (John Law & the Mississippi Bubble).

Van Keulen's 2-sheet version of the map, first issued in 1720, is the earliest obtainable large format map based upon De Fer's map and is a spectacular representation of the French claims in the New World at the high point of the French empire in America.

While a bit less embellished than De Fer's map, Van Keulen's map very faithfully follows the De Fer original, including a reference to John Law's French Company of the West; however, the Van Keulen map also includes a large inset of the mouth of the Mississippi River, showing Fort St. Louis.

This is the first issue of a rare two sheet map produced by Gerard Van Keulen, hydrographer of the Dutch East India Company and heir to the powerful publishing company founded by his father Johannes. The first edition of the map can be distinguished from the later edition, published circa 1750, which includes the imprint of Van Keulen's widow and son: "... chez la Veuve de Jo. van Keulen & Fils."

De Fer's map is perhaps the most important and influential regional map of the period, providing significantly updated cartographic information in a number of regions. The map was the first printed map to provide the updated treatment of the Mississippi River later made famous by De L'Isle in his Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Missisipi. . . (pre-dating De L'Isle's map), the first to include the updated information along the Gulf Coast transmitted to France by Francoise Le Maire, and the first to incorporate the revised and improved mapping of the Great Lakes derived from Jesuit missionary sources in the north.

While its cartographic details rival the contemporary maps of Guillaume De L'Isle for primacy, De Fer's map was almost certainly the more influential work at the time it was published, having been commissioned by John Law's Compagnie d'Occident (Company of the West) to provide a graphic depiction of the vast and rich commercial potential of French Louisiana, for which commercial rights had just been ceded to Law's Company of the West.

De Fer first began work on his map in 1715, when he issued his La Riviere de Missisipi, et ses Environs, dans l'Amerique Septentrionale ..., based upon a 1701 manuscript map by Guillaume De L'Isle. . The 1715 map is essentially the proof state for the lower half of De Fer's 2-sheet map, lacking the internal embellishments intended to demonstrate the wealth of the region. With the founding of John Law's Company of the West and Law's being granted the rights to commercial control of Louisiana by the King of France in August 1717, Law commenced an advertising and promotional campaign to attract investors for his new company. A visual tool was undoubtedly needed to help potential investors understand the scope and commercial potential of France's holdings in Louisiana. To fill the need, De Fer was commissioned to create such a map.

Utilizing the most recent information transmitted back to France by Jesuit Missionary Francoise Le Maire and others, De Fer updated his 1715 map and added a second sheet to the north, bearing the title " Le Cours du Missisipi, ou de St. Louis Fameuse Riviere de l'Amerique Septentrionale. . . " Later, De Fer added two additional half sheets to the east, completing a 4 sheet wall map which depicted the rest of the Colonies. De Fer's map was immediately copied by Gerard Van Keulen in 2 sheets ( Carte de la Nouvelle France ou se Voit le Cours des Grandes Rivieres de S. Laurens & de Mississipi Aujour d'hui S. Louis, aux Environs), and was also reproduced in single sheet versions by Chatelain and Ottens ( Carte de la Nouvelle France, ou se Voit le Cours des Grandes Rivieres de S. Laurens & de Mississipi).

De Fer's map was of great contemporary importance. Among its most important features, it is the first printed map to depict Francoise Le Maire's manuscript copies of the best available Spanish manuscript charts, including the Enriquez Barroto - Bisente manuscript charts of the Gulf Coast (the large inset at the top of the map), which significantly improved the cartographic details of the Gulf Coast and its principal Bays. Henry Popple would later utilize De Fer's map to delineate Spanish settlements on the Rio Grande and territory west of the Mississippi Valley. De Fer's Great Lakes model was utilized well into the 18th Century, most notably serving as the model for the first edition of John Mitchell's monumental map of North America. Perhaps of greatest historical significance, it was undoubtedly a very useful selling tool for John Law, helping him raise significant sums of money for his venture, which would later end with a massive commercial failure known as the Mississippi Bubble.

The map provides credits to some of the most important French explorers and missionaries in America in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries, whose work is incorporated in the map, including Hennepin, de La Salle, Tonti, Justel, des Hayes, and Jolliet. Perhaps most notable is the contributions of Francois le Maire, a Jesuit Missionary in Louisiana whose job from 1706 to 1720 included the review and transcription of explorers' journals, accounts (and maps), which were recorded in his memoirs and then transmitted back to France. Many of these reports and maps were obtained from Spanish sources. One noteworthy example of the Spanish source maps utilized by Le Maire is a manuscript chart illustrated by Jackson in Flags Along The Coast (opposite page 59) and attributed to "a [Spanish] pilot named Soupar (or Soupart)." As noted by Jackson (p. 60):

Francois Le Maire arrived in [Louisiana] in 1706 and devoted himself to a study of its geography. Le Maire collected the accounts of various explorers, analyzed the data, and then forwarded them to France in the form of memoirs and maps. Le Maire's work enabled De L'Isle to produce one of the most influential maps of North America ever made, his 1718 Carte de la Louisiane et du cours du Missisipi.

The large inset at the top of De Fer's map is an almost exact copy of the Soupar / Le Maire chart ( Carte de la Cote de La Louisiane depuis la Cote-de Ouest de la Floride iusqu'a l'Ouest de la Riviere du Missisipy par moy Sovpar 1716), with two noteable exceptions, the shape of Pensacola Bay and the shape of the "Baye de Ste. Rose," to the east. For these two features, De Fer's map more closely resembles a manuscript map by Valentin Devin, entitled Carte de la cote de la Louisiane, depuis l'Embouchure de Mississipi . . . . , which states that it was prepared based upon the observations of M. de Serigny in 1719 and 1720. The Devin map, illustrated as plate 27 in Flags Along The Coast, provides a nearly identical model for De Fer's "Baye de Ste. Rose," but its treatment of Pensacola Bay is very different, as its treatment of the course of the Lower Mississippi, Lake Ponchartrain, and other parts of the map.

The following link illustrates the example of the De Fer map which we offered for sale in 2011:

Condition Description
Two sheets, unjoined. Full contemporary hand-color. One pinprick-sized break in the verdigris in the western sheet. Old horizontal fold in the bottom quarter of both sheets, with some attendant toning. Overall Very Good.
McCorkle, B.B. (New England) 719.6; ; Sellers & Van Ee #178.
Gerard Van Keulen Biography

The Van Keulens were a family of chartmakers and publishers. The firm, In de Gekroonde Lootsman (In the Crowned Pilot), was founded in 1678 by Johannes van Keulen (1654-1715). Van Keulen originally registered his business as a vendor of books and instruments (specifically cross-staffs). In 1680, however, he gained a privilege from the States of Holland and West Friesland for the publication of pilot guides and sea atlases.

In that year, van Keulen released his Zee-Atlas (Sea Atlas), which secured him a name in the competitive maritime publishing market. In 1681, he published the first volume of Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel (New Shining Sea Torch). This would be the first of an eventual five volumes originally published between 1680 and 1684. A sixth volume was added in 1753. The Zee-Fakel won van Keulen lasting fame. The atlas had charts compiled by Claes Jansz Vooght and artwork from Jan Luyken. It proved immensely popular and was reprinted until 1783. There were translations in French, English, Spanish, and Italian.

The late-seventeenth century was an auspicious time to enter the maritime chart business. Previous industry leaders had either closed shop, died, or retired, leaving space for a new competitor. Van Keulen proceeded to buy up the stock and privileges of several maritime publishing firms; the most notable was the stock of Hendrik Doncker, acquired in 1693.

Johannes’ son, Gerard (1678-1726) took over the business upon his father’s death. Gerard was a skilled engraver and mathematician. His talents were noticed, as in 1706 he was named as Hydrographer to the Dutch East India Company (VOC).

In turn, Gerard’s son Johannes II (1704-1770) came to run the shop. He was also tied to the VOC, and his role as their chartmaker allowed his charts to be considered as quasi-official government documents. It is with access to formerly clandestine VOC geographic knowledge that Johannes the Younger was able to add a sixth volume to the Zee-Fakkel, which covered the East Indies. Johannes also continued to sell instruments, including the recently-invented Hadley’s Quadrant from 1744.

When Johannes II died in 1770, his widow ran the business in his stead, aided by her two sons, Cornelis Buys (1736-1778) and Gerard Hulst (1733-1801). Now a century old, the family business had extended to include an anchor factory. After Cornelis died in 1778, Gerard took on the management of the firm alone. He oversaw the introduction of sextants to their inventory and published the Dutch Nautical Almanac beginning in 1788. Annual editions appeared until 1885. Gerard also served as an original member of the Dutch Commission for Longitude at Sea from 1787.

Gerard’s widow ran the business for nine years after his death, when their son, Johannes Hulst, started to lead the firm in 1810. After his death in 1844, the firm passed out of family hands and into the control of Jacob Swert, a skilled cartographer who had worked for the business for two decades. He passed the work to his son, another Jacob, in 1866. By the mid-nineteenth century, the conversion from sail to steam had diminished the size of the market for charts. Fewer sailors needed fewer maps, charts, and instruments. In 1885, after 207 years in business, In de Gekroonde Lootsman closed its doors and auctioned its stock.