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Remarkable Early Depiction of the Mississippi River

One of the earliest obtainable English maps of the colonies and one of the most remarkable early depictions of the Mississippi River, and the second earliest English map to depict the entire course of the Mississippi, after a rare untitled map of north America, which Burden dates as circa 1684 and attributes to Philip Lea (Burden 603).

Beginning in the 1670s, the English fortunes in North America took a dramatic turn upward, resulting in a booming interest in the British American Colonies and, in turn, the issuance of maps to satisfy this interest.

This general map of the Colonies names the 5 Great Lakes (Michigan is Lake Illinovik) and notes each of the primary British Colonies. Approximately 30 Coastal placenames appear south of Long Island to the Mouth of the Mississippi.

The Course of the Mississippi (R. Spirito Sancto al Rio Grande) is of note, taking a very direct southerly route, with a terminus well west of its true location. A mythical set of mountains is shown along the western banks of the Mississippi and a similar mythical range extends from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi River. Burden notes:

One of the most interesting aspects of this map is one of the first depictions of the entire Mississippi River. The map appears to be a composite of the first by Melchisedech Thevenot, 1681 and the influential Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, 1688. Much of the cartography is drawn from the Coronelli-Nolin , c. 1687, although like Thevenot, Morden places the mouth of the river further east.

This map appeared in Modern's Geography Rectified and rare Atlas Terrestris, first published in 1688.  There are two states of the map:

  • 1688:  No page number at top right corner.
  • 1689 circa: Page 73 at top right corner.
Condition Description
Minor repaired tear at top left. Narrow margins.
Cumming 109; Karpinski p111.
Robert Morden Biography

Robert Morden (d. 1703) was a British map and globe maker. Little is known about his early life, although he was most likely apprenticed to Joseph Moxon. By 1671, Morden was working from the sign of the Atlas on Cornhill, the same address out of which Moxon had previously worked. Most famous for his English county maps, his geography texts, and his wall maps, Modern entered into many partnerships during his career, usually to finance larger publishing projects.