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The Work That Initiated the Mapping of the Great Lakes.

A fine example of Samuel de Champlain's 1613 Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain Xaintongeois, one of the greatest books relating to the discovery and exploration of North America, with perhaps the single greatest American sheet map ever produced. This example includes the large folding map, Carte Geographique de la Nouvelle Franse, often lacking from this exceptionally rare work. This example also includes Champlain's Carte geographique de la/ Nouelle franse en son vray meridiein. a map of fundamental importance in its own right.

Taken together, this is the magnum opus of "the first truly scientific cartographer of North America." (Burden 160)

Champlain's Two-Sheet Map of New France--A Cartographic and Ethnographic Tour de Force

Samuel de Champlain completed many vitally important and beautiful maps during his life, but none is as highly regarded, both for its historic cartographic influence and its artful composition, as his Carte Geograpique de la Nouvelle Franse. The map was not just the best-yet rendering of the North American coasts and its interior to the Great Lakes, it also handsomely incorporated natural historical and ethnographic imagery to give a fully-rounded visual record of America at the beginning of the 17th century.

The map can lay claim to several cartographic firsts: This is the first map to indicate a chain of Great Lakes. It is the first to show Lake Champlain and the first to show Montreal (42 years before it would become continually inhabited). It is also the first map to record individual deviations of the compass.

The map shows the American coast as far south as Martha's Vineyard (soupsonneuse), north into Labrador, and west to Lake Erie. Many toponyms are included on the map itself, supplemented by 44 additional names supplied in the key at the bottom of the image. Champlain drew the map on an angle, with a bar of latitude reminiscent of that used by Cornelis Claesz in his c.1594 map of the North Atlantic. Importantly, Champlain relied only on his observations and those he received from local Indians in laying out his maps. Where he incorporated European sources, he was very careful about what information he used and relied upon the most recent and authoritative mappings.

Fite and Freeman provide this translation of the caption in the upper left corner of the map:

I have made this map for the greater convenience of the majority of those who navigate these coasts, since they sail to that country according to the compasses arranged for the hemisphere of Asia. And if I had made it like the small one, the majority would not have been able to use it, owing to their not knowing the declination of the needle

There is only one state of the map and it does not appear in any later works. It is very often lacking from the book.

Champlain's 1613 Book: Les Voyages du Sieur de Champlain Xaintongeois

Generally regarded as one of the fundamental works on the discovery and exploration of America, "the volume deals very fully with the natural history of the country, its soil and products, and is especially minute in its description of the manners, customs, and habits of the Indians. In this edition the text is much fuller than in that of 1632..." (Church)

Champlain's book made manifest the mapping of the "first truly scientific cartographer of North America". The scientific exploration and mapping of New France began with the work of Samuel de Champlain, whose exceedingly rare depictions of the American Northeast are the most important and accurate 17th-century maps of the region. Champlain based his maps on his own discoveries in New France and New England in the early 1600s and published them to accompany the accounts of his voyages. His awareness of the recent English discoveries by Hudson and others to the North also allowed him to integrate, for the first time, the entire body of exploration in the region up to 1611 on a single printed map.

Champlain's explorations were the first 17th century travels to have a major effect on contemporary cartography, and they defined the direction of French explorations in the New World for the rest of the century. Champlain's Carte Geographique de la Nouvelle Franse is the explorer's first significant map of the vast area. Champlain penetrated farther into the interior than any previous explorer, and the geographical discoveries that can be credited to him -- and that are recorded for the first time on the large map included in this volume -- are almost too numerous to name.

Champlain's maps are also credited with initiating the mapping of the Great Lakes, and they constitute the earliest accurate delineations of the New England coastline, preceding John Smith's map by several years. Champlain had explored this region in several voyages he made as official geographer and mapmaker to New France, and his large map reaches to 40 degrees, beyond Cape Cod and Long Island, although in fact, Champlain did not travel further south than the Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard region in his travels of 1605 and 1606 (the farthest south Champlain reached prior to publication of the maps). These discoveries preceded the important voyage by Captain John Smith and Adrian Block.

This is the second book published by Champlain, following his first publication covering his voyage of 1603, which was entitled: Des sauvages, ou Voyage de Samuel Champlain, de Brouage, fait en la France nouvelle l'an mil six cens trois. That book, which was published in Paris in 1603, is considered completely unobtainable for collectors.

The book includes the following maps and charts, all of them copperplate engravings:

  • Carte Geographique de la Nouvelle Franse Faictte par le Sieur Champlain Saint Tongois Cappitaine Ordinaire Pour le Roy en la Marine. 440x765 mm. Burden 160.
  • Carte geographique de la/ Nouelle franse en son vray meridiein. 255 x 335 mm. Burden 161.  (See description below).
  • Chouacoit-R. 115 x 160 mm. Burden 166.
  • Isle de sainte Croix. 150 x 250 mm. Burden 167.
  • le Beau port. 150 x 245 mm. Burden 168.
  • le grand sautl st. louis. 115 x 165 mm. Burden 169.
  • Malle Barre. 150 x 240 mm. Burden 170.
  • port au mouton. 110 x 160 mm. Burden 171.
  • Port de la heue. 110 x 160 mm. Burden 172
  • Port des mines. 110 x 160 mm. Burden 173.
  • Por du Rossÿnol. 110 x 160 mm. Burden 174.
  • port. fortuné. 150 x 240 mm. Burden 175.
  • port Royal. 150 x 245 mm. Burden 176.
  • Port St Louis. 105 x 145 mm. Burden 177.
  • Quebec. 150 x 245 mm. Burden 178.
  • qui ni be quy. 115 x 160 mm. Burden 179.
  • R du Saguenay/ B.port de tadoucac. 115 x 160 mm. Burden 180.
  • R. st lehan. 120 x 160 mm. Burden 181.

Champlain's Second Large Map of 1612:  Carte geographique de la/ Nouelle franse en son vray meridiein.

The second major map in Champain's 1613 book, this map, which covers a much larger geographical area than Champlain's 2-sheet map, is noteworthy for its inclusion of both the discoveries of Champlain's and Henry Hudson's discoveries to the north, as first recorded by Hessel Gerritsz in 1612 in his Beschryvinghe van der Samoyeden landt Tartarien. It is the first map to accurately depict the region from Hudson Bay, Baffin Bay, and the Davis Strait in the north to Ohio and New England in the south.

Champlain's general map has been a source of great interest. The definitive study of the map was done by Conrad Heidenreich and Edward Dahl, in The Two States of Champlain's Carte Geographique, published in Volume 16, Number 1 of Cartographica . . . (University of Toronto Press, June 1979). In the article, the authors conclude that the map was a last-minute inclusion in the official account of his voyages, prepared specifically to integrate Hudson's discoveries (and the discoveries of other English explorers in the north), in order to provide the broader geographical context of Champlain's discoveries in the interior of the region and to the south. As noted by Heidenreich & Dahl:

Its basic outline is a fusion of Champlain's own data, collected between 1603 and 1611, and a map of Henry Hudson's discoveries, the Tabula Navtica, published by Hessel Gerritsz between 1612 and 1613. . .

Of the two states, the undated state (State 1; Figure 2) is incomplete, the scale is unfinished and the date and author are not given. The map shows no evidence of alterations and in fact has a number of errors. The legend however contains a number of places not known to Champlain until the summer of 1613, and symbols for these do not appear on the map itself (See Appendix). In fact, except for the legend, the map depicts only information Champlain had in 1612, albeit after publication of Hudson's Discoveries.

On this topic, Burden states:

This very rare map accompanies the second published work of Samuel de Champlain in 1613. Heidenreich and Dahl argue that it was almost certainly prepared in the previous year. . . Probably after finishing the larger map, Champlain acquired knowledge of Hudson's discovery of [Hudson] Bay . . . This would undoubtedly have been Hessel Gerritsz work published in 1612. Seeing the possibilities this could provide, [Champlain] had this map drawn up on a larger scale to incorporate the new bay.

The map related the numerous voyages of Champlain to 1611 and of the English further to the north. Most particularly recorded is the discovery by Henry Hudson of the bay named after him. It is noted, with the legend noticeably in English, "the bay wher hudson did winter." In this map's second state it also records Champlain's voyage during 1613 some distance up the Ottawa River.

Each of the two maps have distinct merits. This one not only depicts latitude but longitude also, something virtually never attempted before on a North American map of such detail. Champlain's acute awareness of the deviation of the compass enables him to portray the St. Lawrence River in its more correct south-west flow rather than the more usual west to east seen on maps of the period. Below it is an extensive letterpress key relating to the map, which was completely changed for the second state. (Note: Burden's conclusion that the text "was completely changed" in state 2 appears to be a misreading of Heidenreich & Dahl's article. Heidenreich & Dahl note that the POSITION of the text is different on all known examples of the map because the letterpress text was added after the printing of the map, so no two copies are identical).


The book is very rare in and is often lacking the large folding map present here. In the last 30 years, the book with the large map has sold only four times at auction (with one example sold twice); the Du Pont copy sold in 1991 for $99,000, the Siebert copy in 1999 for $398,000; the McKinney-Siebert copy resold in 2009 for $780,000; and the second Perrette example in 2016 for $425,000.


Jean R. Perrette, famed French Breton bibliophile; thence to an important private Canadian collection; from whom we acquired the book in 2020.

Condition Description
Two-sheet map restored, with replacement of printed image on the left and lower right parts of the map. The large folding map is stored separately but could be easily reinserted into binding. Minor restoration to the smaller general folding map, just touching the neatline in the lower right corner. Lacking the Iroquois Battle folding plate (as is sometimes the case).

4to, 17th-century full calf, spine in five compartments separated by raised bands, lettering piece in the second (discreet repairs at spine ends and corners). [10 preliminary leaves], 325, [5] pages, [1 leaf], 3-52 pages (i.e., textually complete). Two parts in one volume. 8 folding maps including "Carte geographique de la nouvelle franse faictte par le sieur de Champlain" and "Carte geographique de la nouvelle franse" (2nd of 2 states), 2 (of 3) folding plates (lacking the plate showing the Iroquois battle), 13 copper engravings in the text, one woodcut diagram, woodcut head- and tail-pieces and initials.
Alden & Landis 613/60; Burden 160-161, 166-181; Church 360; JCB (3) II:93; Kershaw, pp.62-5; Lande 116; Sabin 11835; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, pp. 85-8; Streeter sale VI:3630.