Nice example of Sanson's 1655 double-page engraved map of West Africa. The map shows a fantastic level of detail near the coastlines, which extends into legend and Ptolemaic myth in the interior of the continent.
Detail is particularly extensive in Guinea and the Gold and Ivory Coasts. The Niger River is traced to its Malian lakes. The Mediterranean is barely visible in the northern part of the map.
This map incorporates the discoveries made by Samuel Blommaert, who was director of the Dutch West Indies Company, in addition to traveling extensively to Africa and settling the oldest land deed in the state of Delaware. He was also instrumental in the founding of New Sweden.
Nicholas Sanson (1600-1667) is considered the father of French cartography in its golden age from the mid-seventeenth century to the mid-eighteenth. Over the course of his career he produced over 300 maps; they are known for their clean style and extensive research. Sanson was largely responsible for beginning the shift of cartographic production and excellence from Amsterdam to Paris in the later-seventeenth century.
Sanson was born in Abbeville in Picardy. He made his first map at age twenty, a wall map of ancient Gaul. Upon moving to Paris, he gained the attention of Cardinal Richelieu, who made an introduction of Sanson to King Louis XIII. This led to Sanson's tutoring of the king and the granting of the title ingenieur-geographe du roi.
His success can be chalked up to his geographic and research skills, but also to his partnership with Pierre Mariette. Early in his career, Sanson worked primarily with the publisher Melchior Tavernier. Mariette purchased Tavernier’s business in 1644. Sanson worked with Mariette until 1657, when the latter died. Mariette’s son, also Pierre, helped to publish the Cartes générales de toutes les parties du monde (1658), Sanson' atlas and the first French world atlas.