First State -- Wall Map of the British & French Colonies In North America, Reduced From Henry Popple's Monumental 20 Sheet Map
Striking example of the 4-sheet Covens & Mortier's edition of Henry Popple's seminal map of North America.
Henry Popple's 20 sheet map of North America is widely regarded as one of the two most famous maps of North America to appear in the 18th Century (along with Johns Mitchell's map). It is widely regarded as a landmark in the mapping of North America, being the first large format English map of North America.
Popple produced the map under the auspices of the Lord Commissioners of Trade and Plantations to help settle disputes arising from the rival expansion of English, French, and Spanish colonies. Increased French exploration and the activities of the fur-traders in the Mississippi valley heightened English fears . . . , since France claimed not only Canada, but also the territories drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries - in practical terms, an area half the continent. England and France disputed for many years the fishing rights off Nova Scotia and the Grand Banks.
Added to these problems was the constant threat of attacks on colonists' settlements by Indians allied to the French, leading to the establishment of several frontier forts in the Ohio valley region. The map was first issued in 1733 in 20 sheets, plus a key sheet. The only other multiple sheet edition of the map is this example offered by Covens & Mortier, who re-issued the primary map in 4 sheets.
The Covens & Mortier edition is known in two states:
- State 1: 1737 (title references ... French Spanish and Hollandish Settlements).
- State 2: 1742 circa (State 1: 1737 (title references ... French Spanish and Dutch Settlements)
Covens & Mortier was one of the largest and most successful publishing firms in Dutch history and continued in business for over a century. Pierre Mortier the Elder (1661-1711) had obtained a privilege in 1690 to distribute the works of French geographers in the Netherlands. After his widow continued the business for several years, Cornelis (1699-1783) took over in 1719.
In 1721, Mortier forged a partnership with Johannes Covens (1697-1774), who had recently married Cornelis’ sister. They published under the joint name of Covens & Mortier. In 1774, upon the death of his father, Johannes Covens II (1722-1794) took over his father’s share. In 1778, the company changed its name to J. Covens & Zoon, or J. Covens & Son.
Covens II’s son, Cornelis (1764-1825), later inherited the business and brought Petrus Mortier IV back into the fold. Petrus was the great-grandson of Petrus Mortier I. From 1794, the business was called Mortier, Covens & Zoon, or Mortier, Covens, & Son.
The business specialized in publishing French geographers including Deslisle, Jaillot, Janssonius, and Sanson. They also published atlases, for example a 1725 reissue of Frederik de Wit’s Atlas Major and an atlas, with additions, from the works of Guillaume Delisle. There were also Covens & Mortier pocket atlases and town atlases. The company profited from acquiring plates from other geographers as well. For example, the purchased Pieter van der Aa’s plates in 1730. Finally, they also compiled a few maps in house. At their height, they had the largest collection of geographic prints ever assembled in Amsterdam.