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Description

An Rare English Map of the United States and Louisiana Territory

Rare English edition of Jean Baptiste Bourguignon D'Anville's important map of the British Colonies in North America, published shortly after the conclusion of the American Revolution and formation of the United States.

The choice of colors is quite unusual, defying explanation.

The map evidently displays the vast amount of research that D'Anville invested in mapping the area. As the title notes, the focal point of the map is the Great Lakes, which had been mapped accurately some 45 years earlier by De L'Isle.

The course of the Mississippi can be followed to the latitude of Lake Superior, and the Great Lake region is well mapped. The Louisiana territory has several Indian tribes named, but further inland lands are left uncharted. The treatment of the Lower Missouri River is quite detailed.

This example is a London edition of a D'Anville map, made by the London publisher John Harrison. Harrison is very open about giving credit for the map to D'Anville, stating that

There is no material alterations. . . from the Original" and that "The Proprietor of this work would be wanting in gratitude were he not to acknowledge that the great Reputation and Merit of this work chiefly depend upon the Labour of D'Anville.

This map was separately issued.

Condition Description
Some damage along margins.
Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville Biography

Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the foremost French geographers of the eighteenth century. He carried out rigorous research in order to create his maps, which greatly developed the technical proficiency of mapmaking during his lifetime. His style was also simpler and less ornate than that of many of his predecessors. It was widely adopted by his contemporaries and successors.

The son of a tailor, d’Anville showed cartographic prowess from a young age; his first map, of Ancient Greece, was published when he was only fifteen years old. By twenty-two, he was appointed as one of the King’s géographes ordinaire de roi. He tutored the young Louis XV while in the service to the Crown. However, royal appointment did not pay all the bills, so d’Anville also did some work for the Portuguese Crown from 1724. For example, he helped to fill out Dom João V’s library with geographical works and made maps showing Portugal’s African colonies.  

D’Anville disapproved of merely copying features from other maps, preferring instead to return to the texts upon which those maps were based to make his own depictions. This led him to embrace blank spaces for unknown areas and to reject names which were not supported by other sources. He also amassed a large personal map library and created a network of sources that included Jesuits in China and savants in Brazil. D’Anville’s historical approach to cartography resulted in magnificently detailed, yet modern and academic, maps. For example, his 1743 map of Italy improved upon all previous maps and included a memoir laying out his research and innovations. The geographer also specialized in ancient historical geography.

In 1773, d’Anville was named premier géographe de roi. In 1780, he ceded his considerable library to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be used for as a reference library for diplomats. D’Anville is best known for several maps, including his map of China, first published in 1735, and then included with Du Halde’s history of that country (the Hague, 1737). His map of Africa (1749) was used well into the nineteenth century.