First edition of Nolin's map of Poland and Lithuania, first published by Nolin in Paris during the period of his collaboration with Coronelli, although not specifically mentioning Coronelli by name.
The map was based upon the work of several early authors, including Christoph Hartknoch and Szymon Starowolski.
Szymon Starowolski (1588 - 1656), also known as Simon Starovolscius, was a writer, scholar and historian in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. He was probably born near Pruzhany, and died near Kraków. He was very prolific writer, left behind over 70 works, mostly in Latin. Some of them survived until its translation into Polish.
Christoph Hartknoch (1644-1687), was a Prussian historian and educator. Hartknoch's work in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, Kaunas, and Vilnius, awoke his interest in their history. He wrote a comprehensive work on the Commonwealth spanning 300 years, the first of its kind. Hartknoch's extensive scientific body of works contributed greatly to knowledge of Prussia, Pomerania, Samogitia, Courland, and Poland.
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.