Rare Pre-Publication State of J.B. Nolin's Folio World Atlas
A fantastic Nolin world atlas (with one added map by Tassin), constituting quite possibly the earliest surviving prototype atlas for Nolin's Théâtre du Monde (the only folio atlas published by Nolin), with a very rare European section and a combination engraved and manuscripted title-page reading "Cartes generales des Royaumes de l’Europe et des particuliers de France."
The atlas includes maps of all parts of the world, each of which is in either a first state or early states. Furthermore, it contains all five maps of the Americas published by J. B. Nolin the elder. The atlas also contains a half-printed frontispiece for the second part (representing Louis XIV crushing the Anglican heresy with his foot), a manuscript index, and 48 engraved maps in original outline color, dated from 1687 to 1699.
This prototype atlas is only known in one other example held in the Austrian National Library, Vienna.
Title: Cartes generales /des /Royaumes/ de/ l’Europe/ et des particuliers de France is in manuscript, and the dedication and imprint being engraved : Dedié a Louis Le Grand Roy de France et de Navarre. Par son très Humble serviteur, et Fidelle Sujet / I. B. Nolin. A Paris, Chez I. B. Nolin sur le Quay de l’Horloge du Palais Vers le Pont Neuf, a lEnseigne de la Place des Victoires. Avec Privilege du Roy. 1693.
The National library of Austria holds a Nolin atlas containing 75 maps and also a half engraved, half manuscript frontispiece : Atlas royal contenent/les cartes generales/du monde/et les particuliers de France/Divisé en provinces/et en/gouvernemens, etc/Dressé sur les mémoires les plus nouveaux,/ et Dedié a/Louis Le Grand/Roy de France et de Navarre/Par son très Humble serviteur, et Fidelle Sujet/ I. B. Nolin/ A Paris, Chez I. B. Nolin sur le Quay de l’Horloge/du Palais Vers le Pont Neuf, a lEnseigne/de la Place des Victoires. / Avec Privilege du Roy/ 1693.
J.-B.Nolin published 4 atlases, all of them are rare, only the “ Théâtre du Monde” is a folio format world atlas. The first edition of the Théâtre, with the engraved date 170[.], seems to have been published in 1701.
Two copies of the “Théâtre du Monde” are collated by Pastoureau (conf. Pastoureau, Les Atlas Français XVIe-XVIIe siècles, J.-B. Nolin IV, p. 363) and are in American institutional collections. Both have the engraved date 170[.], one with an addition in manuscript changing the date into 1707. The copy of the Library of Congress contains 55 maps on 85 plates. Maps are dated from 1688 to 1744. Some bear the name of Nolin’s son, or Nolin’s widow.
Manuscript list of the maps : Table des cartes comprises en le Receuil
Title : Cartes Generales des Royaumes de l’Europe et des particuliers de France (in manuscript) Dédié à Louis le Grand Roy de France et e Navarre Par son très Humble serviteur et fidelle Sujet. I.B. Nolin. A Paris chez I. B. Nolin sur le Quay de l’Horloge du Palais, Vers le pont neuf, à l’Enseigne de la Place des Victoires. Avec Privilege du Roy. 1693.
1 - Le Globe Terrestre Represente en Devx Plans-Hemispheres, … A Monseigneur Messire Louis de Boucherat Chancellier de France. 1699.
This world map features two principal hemispheres and 8 smaller projections. California is shown as an island with the indented northern coastline. Australia's eastern coastline is left undefined. The South Pacific features a few other undefined coastlines, including New Zealand. The Mississippi River is noted in North America. Geographically, the map tends to follow Coronelli's globe of 1688. One noticeable addition to the world map is the Solomon Islands in the Pacific.
At least four states of this map exist; possibly more. The first state is dated 1690 and is dedicated to Monseigneur Louis de Boucherat. Later, the date was erased and the dedication and coat of arms changed to that of Louis Philippeaux de Pontchartrin, Minister of Finance.
2 - L'Europe selon les Mémoires les plus Nouveaux Dressée par le. P. Coronelli . . . 1696
3 - L’Espagne divisée en plusieurs Etats et Provinces. 1689
4 - La Principauté de Catalogne… 1694.
5 - Le Royaume de France… 1698
6 - Le Duché et Gouvernement de Normandie… 1694
7 - La Province de Picardie… 1694
8 - Le Gouvernement General de Champagne.. 1699
9 – La Province ou Duché de Bretagne… 1695
9bis- (TASSIN). Carte de Nivernois.
10 - Le Gouvernement General et Militaire du Lyonnois… 1697 (southern sheet only).
11 - Le Gouvernement General du Dauphiné… 169().
12 - Le Comté et Gouvernement de Provence… 1694.
13 – Le Gouvernement General de Languedoc…
14 - Diocese de Nismes… 1698.
15 – Les Isles Britanniques… 1698
16 - Le Royaume d'Angleterre. 1689.
17 – Le Royaume d’Escosse… 1689.
18 – Le Royaume d’Irlande… 169().
19 – La partie Meridionale des Pays-Bas connuë sous le nom de Flandre… 1690.
20 - Le Comte de Flandre Divisé en ses Parties, Quartier, (...) – 1692.
21 – Le Comté de Haynaut… 1696.
22 – Le Comté de Namur… 1696.
23 – Les Provinces Unies ou la Partie Septentrionale des Pays-Bas Connue sous le nom de Hollande… 1690.
24 – L’Allemagne divisée… 1691.
25 – La partie occidentale de l’Allemagne Avec les Pays Adjacents le long du Rhein… 1690.
26 - La partie occidentale de la Haute Allemagne… (25 - 26 map in 2 sheets).
27 – Les Duchez de Lorraine et de Bar… 1696.
28 – Les Suisses, Leurs Alliez…
29 - Partie des cercles du Haut et Bas Rhein ou sont partie des archevechez de Mayence et de Treves, et les evechez de Wormes et Spire, le Palatinat du Rhein,...1690.
30 – Les Royaumes de Suede, de Danemarck et de Norwege... 1691.
31 – Le Royaume de Pologne... 1697.
32 – L’Italie divisée en ses Etats...
33 – La Lombardie...
34 – Le Royaume de Dalmacie...
35 – Le Royaume de Hongrie... 1687.
36 – Le Cours du Danube... 1688.
37 – L’Asie selon les Memoires les plus Nouveaux... 1690.
38 - Paradigma XV Provinciarum et CLV Urbium Capitalium Sinensis Imperij Cum Templis quae Cruce X Signatur Et Domiciliis S.I.
First edition of this rare Jesuit map of China, published by Jean Baptiste Nolin in Paris.
The map first appeared in 1686 in the present form, then was reissued without the text at the bottom of the map in Philippe Couplet's Tabula Chronologica Monarchiae Sinicae, published in 1686, a chronological table of Chinese Monarchs from 2952 BC to 1683. The work is divided into two tables, with this map between the two tables. The map shows China's 15 provinces and 155 major cities, and notes the location of the discovery of the Nestorian Stele in Shaanxi Province as well as the island where St. Francis Xavier died in Southern China. The presence of a Christian Mission is denoted by a cross next to a place name.
The printed tables list the Cities, Settlements, Families, Temples and Missionaries, etc in each of the Provinces and the map shows the extent and influence of the Jesuit Faith in China at this time.
Philippe Couplet (1623-1693) was a Jesuit priest who entered the Society of Jesus on October 11, 1640 and was ordained on November 25, 1654. During the latter part of his education, he befriended Ferdinand Verbiest and Francois de Rougemont, with whom he would undertake his China Mission. In 1648, Couplet and Verbiest were assigned to a mission in Mexico, but were denied transit by the Spanish Government.
Couplet was inspired to undertake his mission to China after hearing a speech given by Martino Marini in Leuven in 1654. He departed for China in 1656 and arrived in 1659. He worked in the provinces of Jiangxi, Fujian, Huguang, Zhejiang, Nanking and Suzhou, before being exiled to Canton with most other missionaries in 1665. In 1671, he returned to Songjiang, and later to the island of Zongming.
In 1680, Couple was appointed procurator of the Chinese Vice-Province and sent to Rome. He left Macau on December 5, 1681 and reached Europe on October 8, 1682. Ferdinand Verbiest had charged him to get French Jesuits for the China mission, as only Portuguese Jesuits or those who worked for Portugal had been in China. In Europe, Couplet visited several Courts and had an audience with Louis XIV.
In Paris, Couplet edited the famous book Confucius Sinarum Philosophus (Paris 1687). Couplet also published his Tabula chronologica monarchiae sinicae. Couplet had contacts in Europe with others interested in China, including Christian Mentzel (1622-1701), Andreas Mauller (1630-1694), Melchisedech Thevenot (1620-1692), and Thomas Hyde (1636-1703).
39 – Royaume de Siam… 1687.
1687 edition of this historically important map of Southeast Asia, by Nolin and Coronelli, issued immediately prior to the Siamese Revolution of 1688, which henceforth restricted European activities in the kingdom.
The present work is an important map of Southeast Asia, extending from the southern part of the Indochinese Peninsula through Malaya, to the northern coastline of Java and the eastern part of Borneo. The map is filled with information including extensive soundings along coastlines and historical notations. The adornment of the map with a large elephant, making up the title cartouche, makes this map a favorite among collectors.
The cartographic detail on the map is groundbreaking, especially with respect to southern Siam. Its depiction of the region was by far the most accurate made to date, and would remain so for over a century thereafter. It is the result of France's first embassy to Southeast Asia in 1685, which was led by the Chevalier de Chaumont in the company of six Jesuit fathers. The route of their embassy is noted on the map.
At the time, Siam was experiencing the 'golden age' of the Ayutthaya Period (1351-1767). The capital city of Ayutthaya, located further up the Chao Praya River from modern Bangkok (noted on the map as 'Fortresse de Bankok'), is thought to have been the world's largest city at time, with over 1 million residents. Ayutthaya is noted on the map as "Judtija", seemingly a phonetic interpretation of the true name.
Siam was first visited by Europeans in 1511, when Duarte Fernandes led a Portuguese embassy to Ayutthaya. While Siam was never formally colonized or claimed by a European power, as shown on the map, the French and Dutch had set up trading posts and Christian missions along the Chao Praya estuary. Brisk business was also done by European commercial agents in Ayutthaya itself.
However, shortly after Chaumont's embassy, there was intense popular uprising against the growing foreign presence in Siam. King Narai of Siam even went as far as to make a Greek adventurer, Constantine Phaulkon, his de facto prime minister. This was all too much for Siamese officials and nationalists.
In what became know as the Siamese Revolution of 1688, forces loyal to the Mandarin Phetracha overthrew Narai's government. Phetracha ascended to the throne and immediately expelled the French from Siam, while severely limiting the activities of the Dutch and other foreigners. This ensured that following the publication of the present map very little new European mapping was executed in Siam during the 18th-century.
The present map was a product of the collaboration between Jean-Baptiste Nolin (1657-1708), who was one of the official mapmakers to the King Louis XIV, and Vincenzo Maria Coronelli (1650-1715), a Venetian master who had been invited to Paris by the King to undertake cartographic projects, including the construction of the colossal 'Marly Globes'. The result of this collaboration was the most up to date and detailed contemporary maps of many parts of the World, at a time when France assumed a leading role in the exploration of America and Asia.
The Nolin-Coronelli mapping of Southeast Asia would become the standard for many decades after the creation of this map, and is a cornerstone of any collection of maps of Thailand and the Malay Peninsula.
40 – Afrique selon les Relations les plus Nouvelles… 1689.
41 - L'Amérique Septentrionale ou la Partie Septentrionale des Indes Occidentales Dressée sur les Mémoires les plus Nouveaux Corrigée et augmentée Par le. Sr. Tillemon . . .
Burden 656, State 2
Second state Johann Baptiste Nolin and Vincenzo Maria Coronelli's important map of North America.
With the agreement of Coronelli (who receives credit in the title), Nolin issued this single sheet map of North America. While it is drawn from Coronelli's 2 sheet map of North America dated 1688, Coronelli's map did not appear in his Atlante Veneto until 1691. Cartographically, the depiction of the Great Lakes is the most advanced to date, drawing on information from the explorations of Louis Jolliet and Jacques Marquette. The Mississippi basin reflects the French discoveries of René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle on his first expedition of 1679-82. This map depicts La Salle's misplacement of the mouth of the Mississippi, which he located some 600 miles to the west of its true location.
In the West, the map contributes a significant amount of new information, drawn mostly from the manuscript map drawn by Diego Dionisio de Peñalosa Briceño y Berdugo, which included numerous previously unrecorded place names and divided the Rio Grande into the Rio Norte and the Rio Bravo in the south. The manuscript map was prepared by Peñalosa between 1671 and 1687, as part of his attempts to interest the French King Louis XIV in a military expedition against New Spain. The most prominent geographical detail of the map is California's appearance as a massive island, this map being one of the best renderings of this beloved misconception.
Nolin's map is not an exact copy of Coronelli's map, these changes are most noteworthy in the Hudson's Bay region, where new place names have been added.
42 - Archipelague Du Mexique. ou Sont les Isles de Cuba, Espagnole, Iamaique, etc. Avec les Isles Lucayes, et les Isles Caribes, Connues sous le nom d'Antilles . . . sur le Quay de l'Horloge du Palais, proche le Pont Neuf a l’Enseigne de la Place des Victoires, avec Privilege du Roy. 1688
The map presents a marvelous large format look at the region, as it was known to Coronelli and Nolin at the end of the 17th century. Florida's southern coastline is curiously shaped, but not yet reflected as an archipelago. The Bahamas consist of a series of oversized islands. Most of the major islands include one or more annotations regarding the early exploration of the island.
Nolin began collaborating with Coronelli during Coronelli's stay in Paris, during which time Coronelli prepared a set of globes for the King of France. Coronelli worked in Paris from 1683 to 1685, constructing a set of 490-centimeter globes from Louis XIV. In August 1686, he entered into a contract with Nolin, the official engraver to Louis XIV, which resulted in a collaboration for the production of a number of maps, including this map of the Caribbean and 4 maps of North America and its regions, the earliest of which was published in approximately 1687.
The maps were modified several times during the 17th and 18th centuries, most notably with the addition of Nicolas du Tralage, Sieur Tillemon's name. A final modification was made in the 1740s, which changes the publisher's address to rue Saint Jacques.
43 - Partie Orientale du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France ou sont les Provinces ou Pays de Sagvenay, Canada, Acadie etc. les Peuples, ou Nations des Etechemins, Iroquois, Attiquameches etc. Avec la Nouvelle Angleterre . . .Virginie . . . sur le Quay de l'Horloge du Palais, proche le Pont Neuf a l’Enseigne de la Place des Victoires, avec Privilege du Roy. 1689
State 2: C. 1690
Early example the Nolin-Coronelli map of Canada & the Northeastern United States, extending south to the Carolinas, one of the most important and up to date French Colonial maps of the period.
The Nolin-Coronelli map was issued at an important time in the development of the French Colonies in North America. The population and reach of the French Colonies had grown significantly in the prior decades, creating a demand for a map of the region in France. Coronelli undertook a detailed study of the region, producing this remarkably detailed and up to date map. The treatment of Labrador incorporates the manuscript map of Franquelin (1681) and Hennepin's map (1683). The Grand Banks are drawn from the map of G.B. du Bocage (1678). The English Possession of New York is noted, along with Iarsey and Pensylvanie, although the colony of Nouvelle Suede is a holdover from earlier times.
New England is shown with an extra Peninsula in the south, similar to the one on Coronelli's map of North America issued in 1688. The regions controlled by England reflect familiarity with the most up to date English maps, including an updated treatment of the Chesapeake. The map is also of interest for the different names for Cape Cod given.
While the map is a composite of many maps, Kershaw noted that it was "probably the best 17th century representation of eastern Canada and the eastern seaboard of America." This map is the second edition. Boston is also correctly named in this edition, as are Kenebeck town and river. Many other interesting early annotations throughout.
The present example of the map is state 2 of 4. The states can be identified as follows:
First State (1689): Nolin's Address is le Quay de l'Horloge du Palais, proche la Rue de Harlay . . .
Second State (circa 1690): Nolin's Address is le Quay de l'Horloge du Palais, proche le Pont Neuf . . .
Third State (circa 1690): Dediee removed. "Corrigée et augmentée Par le Sr. Tillemon et Dédiée" added.
Fourth State (1704): Date changed to 1704.
44 – Partie Occidentale du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France… 1688.
Nice example of the third state of Nolin's landmark map of the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi incorporates the reports of Marquette, Jolliet, Hennepin, La Salle and Allouez, for the first time on a printed map. Nolin's map is the first printed map to focus on the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi Region and almost certainly pre-dates Coronelli's 2-sheet map of North America. The map is derived from reports by Jean Baptiste-Louis Franquelin, who was responsible for collecting and transmitting information from other French Missionaries "exploring" North America for the French Government.
As noted by Burden:
The whole bears a myriad of legends referring to points of interest and events. Lake Frontenac (Ontario) is named after the contemporaneous Governor of New France. Identified near Niagara Falls is Fort Conty, built by La Salle in 1679. The north shore of Lake Erie indicates the three peninsulas for the first time in print. LAGO ILINOIS, o MICHIGAMI is the first appearance of the Melchisedech Thevenot map of 1681. At its southern point is Chekagou o Portage, the first mention of this name [Chicago] on a printed map. Lake Superior is clearly derived from the account of Father Claude Dablon. Lac Nadovessans to its north-west derives from the account written by Louis Hennepin and published in 1683 of his travels with La Salle up the Mississippi in 1679-80. Two further forts built by La Salle are identified. Fort des Miamis at the southern tip of Lake Michigan, which would later become Fort Saint-Joseph. Fort Crevecoeur was constructed on the shores of Lake Peoria on the Illinois River. The river is given its alternative name of Seignelay after Jean-Baptiste Colbert, the Marquis of Seignelay, and the most formidable minister in France. Travelling north we pass the Misconsin River identified as the point at which in 1673 Marquette and Jolliet were the first Europeans to enter the Mississippi River. Further downriver the Missouri is labelled Riu. Des Ozages, and the Riviere Ouabache refers to the Ohio. Virtually the only error of judgement that can be labelled is the placing of a large mountain range along the western shore of the Mississippi, presumably a reference to the Rocky Mountains, about which the explorers had already heard.
The first edition of the map survives in only one known example (British Library -- undated). While other map experts have placed the date of the first edition of this map at ca. 1685, Burden opined that the first state was issued in about 1687, based upon its geographical content. Coronelli had completed his monumental 490 centimeter globes for King Louis XIV in 1683 and returned to Venice in 1685. He returned to Paris in 1686, at the time the engraving of the globe gores for the printed version of his globe was being commenced. The contract for publication of the gores between Nolin and Coronelli was signed in 1686. Nolin engraved three additional maps of North America between 1687 and 1689. Coronelli received the privilege for publication of the map on January 4, 1687, which he immediately transferred to Nolin.
The map is offered here in the third state, adding the coat of arms in the upper right part of the title cartouche (present in the second state) and the annotation in the title noting that the map had been corrected and augmented by Tillemon (added in the third state).
A remarkable amalgam of French discovery in the New World, bringing together for the first time in graphic form the explorations and writings of these remarkable men whose missions among the Indians of North America and resultant discoveries opened up the midwest to European exploration and conquest over the next hundred years. An essential map for collectors.
45 - Le Nouveau Mexique appelé aussi Nouvelle Grenade et Marata, Avec Partie de Californie . . .168().
Fine example of the first edition of the Nolin / Coronelli map of the Southwest, the largest format regional map of the Southwest published in the 17th Century
The Nolin / Coronelli map is of great importance, being the earliest map to reproduce the information obtained by the French from Diego de Peñalosa, the governor of New Mexico from 1661 to 1665.
Centered on the Rio Grande, the map extends well beyond Taos to the Quivira and Teguaio regions. The map includes a marvelous mythical Lago de Oro opposite the Mer De Californie. A number of annotations discuss the various provinces, early explorations dating to Cortez in 1534, Alarcon in 1540 and Cabrillo in 1542. Notes the discovery of Cinaloa by Guzamano in 1532, the discoveries of Francisco de ybarras in Nouvelle Biscaye, and notes regarding the various Indian tribes along the Rio Grande.
In his discussion of the map, Burden notes:
This beautiful map is the most momentous map of the American south-west published to date and would remain seminal for decades to come. The major significance of the map is its depiction of the Rio Grande flowing south-east and discharging into the Gulf of Mexico and not the Gulf of California. Giovanni Battista Nicolosi had been the first to depict it so in 1660, but it was Coronelli's credibility which persuaded the cartographic community to change. . .
As further noted by Burden, much of the cartographic primacy of Coronelli's map derives from information obtained from Diego de Peñalosa, the Governor of New Mexico from 1661 to 1665. Peñalosa had been expelled in 1665 and fled first to England in 1668 and later to France in the early 1670s, where he began passing on cartographic information to the French. The Biblotheque du Depot de la Marine retains a manuscript map of the southwest based upon the reports of Peñalosa, which is likely the document referenced by Coronelli in the Avertissement of the present map, which specifically references Peñalosa and his time as governor of New Mexico as the source of the map.
Peñalosa's presence in Paris corresponds with the time period in which Coronelli was collaborating with Nolin and also constructing a monumental globe for the King of France. His access to cartographic information was essentially unlimited, so direct access to the Diego de Peñalosa manuscript information and perhaps Peñalosa himself seems probable.
There are two states of the map, the second dated 1742.
One of the most important and interesting early regional maps. An essential map for collectors of the early Southwest.
46 – L’Amerique Meridionale… 1689.
47 – Plan Routier de la Ville de Paris. 1698.
The example of the Nolin Theatre du Monde . . . (dated 1746) in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France notes:
Le quatrième atlas de J.-B. Nolin est un atlas mondial, qui réunit les cartes de Nolin de format in-folio. Une première ébauche de cet atlas, avec 75 cartes et une page de titre mi-gravée mi-manuscrite, est conservée à la Bibliothèque nationale d'Autriche. Son frontispice représente Louis XIV assis, écrasant du pied l'hérésie anglicane, et semble de facture hollandaise. Le titre manuscrit imite la gravure: "Atlas Royal contenent [sic] les cartes generales du monde et les particuliers [sic] de France Divisé en provinces et en gouvernemens, etc Dressé sur les memoires les plus nouveaux, et Dedié a Louis le Grand roy de France et de Navarre Par son tres humble serviteur et fidelle sujet J.B. Nolin. A Paris Chez J.B. Nolin sur le Quay de l'Horloge du Palais Vers le Pont Neuf, à l'Enseigne de la Place des Victoires. Avec privilege du roy 1693."
Une première édition de ce "Theatre du monde" est signalée, avec la date 1701, dans A. Jal, "Dictionnaire critique de biographie et d'histoire", 1872, p. 917. Les deux exemplaires que nous avons recensés sont conservés dans des collections américaines. Ils portent tous deux la date gravée 170[.] avec, dans le premier cas, une addition manuscrite qui la transforme en 1707.
Translation: J.-B. Nolin's fourth atlas is a world atlas, which brings together Nolin's folio format maps. A first draft of this atlas, with 75 maps and a half-engraved, half-handwritten title page, is kept at the Austrian National Library. Its frontispiece represents Louis XIV seated, crushing the Anglican heresy with his foot, and appears to be Dutch. The handwritten title imitates the engraving: "Atlas Royal contain [sic] the general maps of the world and the individuals [sic] of France Divided into provinces and governments, etc. Drawn up on the most recent memories, and Dedicated to Louis le Grand Roy of France and Navarre By his very humble servant and faithful subject JB Nolin In Paris At JB Nolin on the Quay de l'Horloge of the Palais Towards the Pont Neuf, at the Ensign of the Place des Victoires. With privilege of the king 1693 . "
A first edition of this "Theater of the world" is reported, with the date 1701, in A. Jal, "Critical Dictionary of Biography and History", 1872, p. 917. The two copies that we have listed are kept in American collections. They both bear the engraved date 170 [.] With, in the first case, a handwritten addition which transforms it into 1707.
Given the difference in the contents, there is good reason to believe that this is the earliest surviving example of Nolin's prototype for his World Atlas, which would be issued some months later in 1700 or 1701.
The present work, coming from the workshop of Nolin is great significance, pre-dating all known examples of Theatre du Monde.
Jean-Baptiste Nolin (ca. 1657-1708) was a French engraver who worked at the turn of the eighteenth century. Initially trained by Francois de Poilly, his artistic skills caught the eye of Vincenzo Coronelli when the latter was working in France. Coronelli encouraged the young Nolin to engrave his own maps, which he began to do.
Whereas Nolin was a skilled engraver, he was not an original geographer. He also had a flair for business, adopting monikers like the Geographer to the Duke of Orelans and Engerver to King XIV. He, like many of his contemporaries, borrowed liberally from existing maps. In Nolin’s case, he depended especially on the works of Coronelli and Jean-Nicholas de Tralage, the Sieur de Tillemon. This practice eventually caught Nolin in one of the largest geography scandals of the eighteenth century.
In 1700, Nolin published a large world map which was seen by Claude Delisle, father of the premier mapmaker of his age, Guillaume Delisle. Claude recognized Nolin’s map as being based in part on his son’s work. Guillaume had been working on a manuscript globe for Louis Boucherat, the chancellor of France, with exclusive information about the shape of California and the mouth of the Mississippi River. This information was printed on Nolin’s map. The court ruled in the Delisles’ favor after six years. Nolin had to stop producing that map, but he continued to make others.
Calling Nolin a plagiarist is unfair, as he was engaged in a practice that practically every geographer adopted at the time. Sources were few and copyright laws weak or nonexistent. Nolin’s maps are engraved with considerable skill and are aesthetically engaging.
Nolin’s son, also Jean-Baptiste (1686-1762), continued his father’s business.