Fine example of Johann Baptiste Homann's decorative map of America, the first of two maps of America published by the Homann family.
This is the second state of the map, which includes a long northwest Coast of America, which is called "Costa Terrae Borealis incognitae detecta a Dom: Ioanne de Gama navigante ex China in Novam Hispaniam." The map provides credit for the discovery of this coastline to João de Gama (1540-1591). João da Gama, the grandson of Vasco da Gama, was a Portuguese explorer and colonial administrator in the Far East, during the last quarter of the 16th century. Da Gama sailed from Macau to the northeast and rounded Japan by north, crossing the Pacific Ocean at the northernmost latitudes. The lands northeast of Japan, which João da Gama discovered, were the subject of legend and speculation in the centuries that followed, inspiring its search by European powers.
Good detail throughout the map, especially in the southwest and near the Great Lakes, which were then actively being explored by the French fur traders and Hudson's Bay Company.
Johann Baptist Homann (1663-1724) was a mapmaker who founded the famous Homann Heirs publishing company. He lived his entire life in Bavaria, particularly in Nuremberg. Initially, Johann trained to become a priest before converting to Protestantism and working as a notary.
In 1702, Johann founded a publishing house that specialized in engravings. The firm flourished, becoming the leading map publisher in Germany and an important entity in the European map market. In 1715, Johann was named Imperial Geographer to the Holy Roman Empire by Charles VI and made a member of the Prussian Academy of Sciences. Most importantly for his business, his reputation and contacts gained him imperial printing privileges which protected his publications and recommended him to customers. Johann is best known for this Grosser Atlas ueber die ganze Welt, or the Grand Atlas of the World, published in 1716.
After Johann died in 1724, the business passed to his son, Christoph (1703-1730). Upon Christoph’s early death, the company passed to subsequent heirs, with the name of the company changing to Homann Erben, or Homann Heirs. The firm continued in business until 1848.