Spectacular Original Hand-Color in Full.
A highly desirable example of Jaillot's striking large format map of North America, showing California as an Island, based upon Sanson's landmark map of 1656.
This example was painstakingly hand-colored at the time of publication.
The map, printed in a wide-format, shows all that was then known of North America on a curved projection. The northern tip of South America is included, as are the British Isles. In the Pacific, a phantom coastline is labeled as “Terre de Iesso, ou Ieco,” a reference to a series of North Pacific chimeras related to the search for land sighted by Juan de Gama in the sixteenth century.
Details are densely included in Mexico and Central America, as well as the East Coast of North America. Beyond the Appalachian Mountains and outside Nueva España, however, there is much blank space and conjecture. For example, in what is now Texas is Quivira. This is a reference to the Seven Cities of Gold sought by the Spanish explorer Francisco Vasquez de Coronado in 1541. In 1539, Coronado wandered over what today is Arizona and New Mexico, eventually heading to what is now Kansas to find the supposedly rich city of Quivira. Although he never found the cities or the gold, the name stuck on maps of southwest North America, wandering from east to west.
The most striking geographic feature is certainly California depicted as an island. Also of note is the representation of the Great Lakes, which are open at the west end. The far north is riddled with incomplete coastlines, showing the nascent degree of exploration in that area. There is also a suggestive open end to Buttons Bay, a tantalizing possibility of a Northwest Passage.
To the southward, the Mississippi is called the Chucagua and is farther east than previous mappings. There is a massive lake in Florida called Apalache, a mis-mapping of Lake George stemming from the work of De Bry and Le Moyne.
As the title running along the top edge explains, an important part of the map is to denote the political divisions of European imperial possessions. These are marked by dotted lines on the map. An eight-layered scale is in the lower left, with indigenous Americans on either side of the ornate frame. In the upper left is the title cartouche and dedication, another ornate embellishment with indigenous Americans, parrots, and the coat of arms of the Dauphin, the dedicatee. The title cartouche also credits Nicolas Sanson; indeed, the depiction of California is based on the second Sanson or the Luke Foxe model, while the East Coast is derived from his map of 1666.
Due to the rocky relationship between the Jaillot and Sanson firms, there are several closely-related yet separate plates of this map. This is the Covens & Mortier issue of 1692, identifiable by the line of longitude bisecting the first “A” in Apaches Vaqueros.
Alexis-Hubert Jaillot (ca. 1632-1712) was one of the most important French cartographers of the seventeenth century. Jaillot traveled to Paris with his brother, Simon, in 1657, hoping to take advantage of Louis XIV's call to the artists and scientists of France to settle and work in Paris. Originally a sculptor, he married the daughter of Nicholas Berey, Jeanne Berey, in 1664, and went into partnership with Nicholas Sanson's sons. Beginning in 1669, he re-engraved and often enlarged many of Sanson's maps, filling in the gap left by the destruction of the Blaeu's printing establishment in 1672.
Pierre, or Pieter, Mortier (1661-1711) was a Dutch engraver, son of a French refugee. He was born in Leiden. In 1690 he was granted a privilege to publish French maps in Dutch lands. In 1693 he released the first and accompanying volume of the Neptune Francois. The third followed in 1700. His son, Cornelis (1699-1783), would partner with Johannes Covens I, creating one of the most important map publishing companies of the eighteenth century.