Attractive example of the title cartouche sheet from the Covens & Mortier four-sheet edition of Popple's map of the Britsh Empire in America and contiguous French, Spanish & Dutch regions.
Popple's 20 sheet map of North America is widely regarded as one of the two most famous maps of North America to appear in the 18th Century (along with Johns Mitchell's map). Popple's map is widely regarded as a landmark in the mapping of North America, being the first large format English map of North America. Popple produced the map under the auspices of the Lord Commissioners of Trade and Plantations to help settle disputes arising from the rival expansion of English, French, and Spanish colonies.
Increased French exploration and the activities of the fur-traders in the Mississippi valley heightened English fears, since France claimed not only Canada, but also the territories drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries - in practical terms, an area half the continent. England and France disputed for many years the fishing rights off Nova Scotia and the Grand Banks. Added to these problems was the constant threat of attacks on colonists' settlements by Indians allied to the French, leading to the establishment of several frontier forts in the Ohio valley region.
The present map is the southwest section of the 4 sheet edition of the map by Covens & Mortier, which includes the decorative title cartouche and a fine depiction of the the region from Texas and Mexico in the northwest to Florida and the Carolinas in the northeast, and covering the Gulf Coast, Caribbean and Cental America. The map is extremely detailed, with names of harbors, towns & settlements, topographical features, forests and rivers. There are numerous fine sailing ships and the course of the Spanish galleons from Vera Cruz to Havana is identified. The fabulous pictorial cartouche features Native Americans and colonial merchants representing the wealth of the region. The sheet title is in the top margin, Nouvelle Carte Particuliere de l'Amerique ou sont exactement marquees les Provinces suivantes comme la Caroline Meridionale, la Floride, la Louisiane, le Mexique, le Jucatan, le Guatimala, le Darien, & une Partie de Cuba.
The map was first issued in 1733 in 20 sheets, plus a key sheet. The only other multiple sheet edition of the map is this example offered by Covens & Mortier, who re-issued the primary map in 4 sheets (plus key sheet and views).
Covens & Mortier was one of the largest and most successful publishing firms in Dutch history and continued in business for over a century. Pierre Mortier the Elder (1661-1711) had obtained a privilege in 1690 to distribute the works of French geographers in the Netherlands. After his widow continued the business for several years, Cornelis (1699-1783) took over in 1719.
In 1721, Mortier forged a partnership with Johannes Covens (1697-1774), who had recently married Cornelis’ sister. They published under the joint name of Covens & Mortier. In 1774, upon the death of his father, Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) took over his father’s share. In 1778, the company changed its name to J. Covens & Zoon, or J. Covens & Son.
Covens II’s son, Cornelis (1764-1825), later inherited the business and brought Petrus Mortier IV back into the fold. Petrus was the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I. From 1794, the business was called Mortier, Covens & Zoon, or Mortier, Covens, & Son.
The business specialized in publishing French geographers including Deslisle, Jaillot, Janssonius, and Sanson. They also published atlases, for example a 1725 reissue of Frederik de Wit’s Atlas Major and an atlas, with additions, from the works of Guillaume Delisle. There were also Covens & Mortier pocket atlases and town atlases. The company profited from acquiring plates from other geographers as well. For example, the purchased Pieter van der Aa’s plates in 1730. Finally, they also compiled a few maps in house. At their height, they had the largest collection of geographic prints ever assembled in Amsterdam.