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The Jolliet / Marquette Map of The Mississippi River -- First Printed Map of the Course of the Mississippi

Fine example of the German edition of the Jolliet-Marquette map of the Mississippi River, the earliest separate map depict the expedition of Louis Jolliet and Father Jacques Marquette down the Mississippi River.

In 1663, the French government began a more systematized effort to search for furs, minerals, and a shorter route to China, which resulted in an expansion of the Jesuit missions further west beyond the Great Lakes.   Among the primary sources for new information was Jacques Marquette a Jesuit priest who was sent west in 1668 from Quebec toward the western Great Lakes region and had helped to found the mission at Saulte Sainte Marie (Michigan), Saint Ignace (Michigan) and La Pointe (Wisconsin).  At La Pointe, Marquette learned from Illinois tribe members of a trading route which would he would later be determined to be the Mississippi River.

 After informing his superiors, an expedition was sent out under the command of Marquette and Louis Jolliet, a fur trader and explorer. Jolliet and Marquette left Saint Ignace on May 17, 1673, sailing for Green Bay and then up the Fox River.  Near its headwaters, they portaged about 2 miles to the Wisconsin River, where they continued downstream, reaching the Mississippi River near Pairie du Chien, Wisconsin. Continuing south, they discovered the mouths of the Missouri, Ohio, and Arkansas rivers, before turning back out of fear of encountering a Spanish force. On the return trip, they found a shortcut to Lake Michigan by following the Illinois and Des Plaines rivers to a portage at Chicago.

Several manuscript maps survive based on the discoveries of the Jolliet and Marquette expedition. This map was first adapted for inclusion in Melchisedech Thevenot's Recueil des Voyages, Paris, 1681. It shows for the first time on a printed map the Mississippi and its tributaries north of the Arkansas based upon first-hand observation. The depiction of the river between the Arkansas and the Gulf is based on speculation. It is also the first map to include the place name Michigan ("Mitchigami").

This second edition of the map appeared in the rare 1689 German book which included an edition of Hennepin's Description de la Louisiane, to which Thevenot's account of Jolliet and Marquette's expedition was appended. Both editions of the map are very rare. The cartography in the second edition is identical to the first, but in the second edition, the title and one or two legends have been translated from French into Latin.


Both the French and German editions of the map is extremely rare. 

This is the only example of the German edition we have offered for sale in more than 30 years.

Condition Description
Housed in a large folio custom clamshell cloth case.
Burden, The Mapping of North America, 540; see Heidenreich and Dahl, The French Mapping of North America in the Seventeenth Century, p. 8.