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Stock# 83934

The Royal Copy of Louis XIV—the Largest Known Nolin Atlas and the Only Known Atlas with Nolin's Banned Wall Map of the World

This is the largest known Jean-Baptiste Nolin atlas, having been made for Louis XIV in 1704—it retains the King's binding with his ciphers.

This atlas is a stunning microcosm of French cartography at the end of the seventeenth and beginning of the eighteenth centuries. It opens with one of the most intriguing world maps of all time, Nolin's Le Globe Terrestre representé en deux plans-hemispheres, which is known in only one other complete example, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France.

This world map, while groundbreaking, resulted in a five-year-long legal battle between Guillaume De L'Isle and Nolin over accusations of plagiarism. The present atlas is inextricably tied to that scandal, as it is the only atlas to include Nolin's world map, and was almost certainly intended to curry favor with Louis XIV when Nolin needed his support the most. The atlas draws from the rest of Nolin's body of work, including elements of his military atlases, as well as his famous wall maps of the Paris region, the Royal Canal of Languedoc, the Holy Land, and elsewhere. It ends with a complete set of the five famed Nolin-Coronelli maps of North America—eastern Canada, the Great Lakes, the American Southwest, South Florida, and the Caribbean—some of the most sought-after of all French maps of North America.

Jean-Baptiste Nolin (1657-1708) came to his trade through his family; his father was an engraver, as was his brother. But J. B. Nolin alone gained real success in the pursuit. His close association with Vincenzo Maria Coronelli, which he cultivated while working in Rome in the 1670s, led to him being granted a monopoly on the distribution of the latter's work in France in 1686. This helped considerably in establishing Nolin as one of the leading cartographic publishers of seventeenth-century France. By 1694, Nolin was geographer to the Duke of Orléans, brother of Louis XIV. After the Duke's death in 1701, Nolin was appointed géographe du roi. It was in that role that Nolin made the present atlas; a statement of loyalty and admiration for the French king, and a useful instrument through which the latter could reflect on the tumultuous geopolitics of contemporary Europe and his attempts to extend French influence throughout the world.

Nolin's atlas output was unusually unstable. Pastoureau lists only four Nolin atlases: Le Champ de Mars dans les Pay-Bas (Nolin I); Théâtre de la guerre en Italie (Nolin II); Théâtre de la guerre dans la Haute et Basse Allemagne (Nolin III); and Le théâtre du monde (Nolin IV). Of these works, only the Théâtre du monde is a traditional folio atlas of the world, but no two copies of that work are alike. The present atlas is larger than any of the aforementioned, gathering elements from each of the others and supplementing them with important separate maps (such as his wall map of the world, Le Globe terrestre representé en deux plans-hemispheres). For Nolin IV, Pastoureau locates a two-volume composite at Yale University, which lists 52 items in volume I and 70 items in volume II (regrettably, that atlas is incomplete - "maps 2-7, 33 & 34 listed in Table of vol. 1 wanting; maps 50-52 in vol. 1 and 3 and 32 in vol. 2 mutilated.") Phillips-LeGear notes a Nolin with 55 maps on 85 plates. Furthermore, the Austrian National Library holds an example of the Atlas Royal from 1693, which has 75 maps.

The present atlas has 127 items listed in the index (with 126 extant, lacking the folio map of Paris), five more than are listed in the Yale example. Like the Austrian National Library example, this atlas has two half-engraved, half-manuscript title pages. Pastoureau notes "[This] frontispiece represents Louis XIV seated, crushing the Anglican heresy with his foot, and seems to be of Dutch manufacture." The present atlas may correct the record on the plate's origin, as on the title for volume II is an inscription in pen "I.B. Nolin Sculp."

Much of the book is given over to maps depicting the Nine Years' War (1688-1697) and the early years of the War of Spanish Succession (1701-1714), as these events were foremost in Louis XIV's mind. Additionally, we have some of the masterworks of Nolin's oeuvre: Le Terre Sainte (1700); Royaume de Siam (1687); Partie Orientale du Canada (1689); Partie Occidentale du Canada (1688); and Le Nouveau Mexique (circa 1687). These maps and others capture the enduring French desire for an expanding global empire.

Nolin's banned wall map of the world

The crowning jewel of this atlas is its wall map of the world, which, when assembled, would be almost sixty inches wide.

Shirley (map 650) called the world map "one of the finest large-scale world maps to be produced and [...] a fitting bridge between the geographical and artistic skills of the seventeenth century and the century to come." In fact, Shirley discovered what was previously the only known complete copy of the original 1700 issue at the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 1976. The example in the present atlas is therefore only the second complete example known. There is an incomplete example of the 1700 issue, lacking its lower and side borders, in the Solis and Helen Seiferth Collection at the Louisiana State Museum.

Aside from its rarity, Nolin's wall map of the world deserves several monumental accolades:

  1. It is the first world map to begin the process of undoing the island of California myth, rendering it as a peninsula instead.
  2. It is the first world map to show the myth of the Sea of the West.
  3. It is the first world map to show a speculative eastern coast of Australia.
  4. It is the first world map to show the beginning of permanent French colonization of Louisiana ("Fort de Pontchartrain Col Françoise en 1699.")

There is only one problem; all of these cartographic innovations were plagiarized by Nolin from a manuscript globe made by the other leading force in French cartography, Guillaume De L'Isle.

The theft did not go unnoticed by De L'Isle, and it resulted in a five-year-long legal battle between the two mapmakers. The affair is covered in detail in several places, namely Numa Broc's 1970 article "Une affair de plagiat cartographique e sous Louis XIV : le procès Delisle-Nolin" in Revue d'histoire des sciences et de leurs applications and in Mary Pedley’s important The Commerce of Cartography (2005). On March 8, 1700, De L'Isle accused Nolin (at first not naming him) of having copied proprietary cartographic information from a manuscript globe that he had made for Chancellor Boucherat, which resided in the cabinet of the latter's son. This globe included information that De L'Isle had intentionally not put in print, such as the Sea of the West, because, according to De L'Isle himself, he did not want to make it available to France's competition. De L’Isle wrote of the Sea of the West:

It "was one of my discoveries. But since it is not always appropriate to publish what one knows or what one thinks one knows, I have not had this sea engraved on the works that I made public, not wanting foreigners to profit from this discovery" (as quoted in Pedley, 109).

De L'Isle's claim was complicated by the fact that Nolin had beaten him to market by four months— the first piece of evidence that Nolin used to defend himself. As it was a technical matter, the judges overseeing the case relied on the input of experts such as Sauveur, Chevalier, Cassini the Younger, and Maraldi. The panel of experts concluded that while De L'Isle was cogent in his responses to their questioning, Nolin was not:

"The Sieur Nolin, on the contrary, did not seem to us to be sufficiently educated to make use of these memoirs... it seems almost everywhere that he is ignorant... of the first principles of geography." (translated from a quote in Broc, pg. 148)

As this legal process was underway, Louis XIV published a new regulation on December 16, 1704 requiring geographers to submit all new maps to a commission of experts, to avoid counterfeiting. This is noteworthy for the present atlas, as it was almost certainly produced in 1704 with the intention of presenting it to the King.

As an aside, there are at least two states of the world map. One with Nolin's imprint reading "Geographe de S.A.R. Monsieur [the Duke of Orleans]" and another (after the Duke's death in 1701) reading "Geographe ord: du Roy". On the present example, the imprint "scroll" has been overlaid with a manuscript slip reading, "A PARIS | Chez l'Auteur Sur le Quay de | l'horloge du Palais a l'Enseigne | de la Place des Victoires | vers le Pontneuf." As the present atlas was almost certainly assembled in 1704, and this atlas was likely intended for presentation to the King, it is interesting that Nolin is no longer claiming a royal privilege for the publication of the map and that he is no longer naming himself as the author.

On June 13, 1706, the Commission ruled in favor of De L'Isle, stating that Nolin had plagiarized the former's work, and as a result, was to have the copperplates for the world map put to the pestle (i.e., burnished of their cartography), to pay fifty livres in damages for slandering De L'Isle, and to have his brass instruments destroyed. De L'Isle showed magnanimity in not requiring the last of the punishments to be carried out. Still the process took a toll on Nolin, and he died two years later, in 1708, at the age of 51.

Despite its controversial origins, Nolin's world map was fantastically engraved (Nolin's real strong suit) and most importantly was the first printed map to publicize a host of cartographic revelations that De L'Isle had previously deemed state secrets and therefore kept private. With that being said, it is worth dwelling on a few aspects of the map's revolutionary cartography.

East Coast of Australia

Prior to the publication of Nolin's map, Australia was rendered exclusively with western and northern coastlines seen by Dutch explorers, as well as with a floating coastline for Tasmania, as seen by Abel Tasman. In the present map, a leap has been made—albeit a well-founded one—to enclose New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania into one coherent landmass. The speculative coastlines are rendered with hatched lines, and a curious opening to the west remains above Tasmania. All of this gives the cartography an air of uncertainty, but the advancement was substantial. This speculative coastline would be given different configurations by French cartographers such as De L'Isle and Buache throughout the eighteenth century until Cook's discoveries would finally put an end to the guesses once and for all.

The Iberville Colony and French settlement of Louisiana

Nolin's map is the first to show the beginning of permanent French colonization of the area that would later become Louisiana and Mississippi. It does so in the form of a symbol of a fort and the note "Fort de Pontchartrin Col: Françoise de 1699" just east of the "mouths" of the Mississippi ("Bouches de Misissipi"). This indicates a settlement of colonists that was led by Pierre le Moyne d'Iberville under the sponsorship of Louis Phelypeux, Comte de Pontchartrain, French Minister of the Navy, following up on La Salle's claims to the Mississippi. The expedition arrived near what is now Biloxi, Mississippi on January 25, 1699.

The wall map's rendition of the mouth of the Mississippi is thus worthy of examination. This depiction is seemingly an intermediate version of what is on the first state of Guillaume Delisle's map of North America (Burden 761.1) and the second state (761.2); it has the strange southwestward-sloping leg of the Mississippi exiting into what can best be described as Matagorda Bay (like the first state of Delisle's map), while it also has a fort shown on it, as does the second state of Delisle's map. We also note that Nolin calls it "Fort de Pontchartrin" not "Fort Maurepas." These facts point to Nolin using the fruits of De L'Isle's early correspondence from Iberville, which, according to Delanglez, the latter received on July 4, 1699, presumably around the time of Iberville's first return to France. Iberville then returned to the colony and started a new fort, eighteen leagues upriver from the mouth of the Mississippi. According to Burden, it is this later fort that appears on De L'Isle's map, but it seems it is that first fort that is on Nolin's. This would make this map the first to show the beginning of permanent French settlement in Louisiana.


The atlas has the following provenance marks:

Louis XIV, with gilt tools of his royal cipher on the binding, probably as a presentation from Nolin in 1704.
Nineteenth- or early-twentieth-century ink stamp of "L. Feron. Thury-Harcourt (Calvados)" on sheet 11 of Volume I.

The atlas was granted an export license from France by the experts of the Bibliothèque nationale de France following its digitization by them in 2021.

Appendix: Maps

The atlas includes the following maps, in order.

Volume I:

  1. Le Globe terrestre representé en deux plans-hemispheres dressé sur les dernieres observations et sur plusieurs voyages et routes des plus habiles pilotes, faits en differents temps en toutes les parties du monde Avec privilège du roi. 1700.
  2. L'Europe Divisée En ses Grands Etats Subdivisez en Provinces Dressee Sur les Memoires les plus Nouveaux et Dediee A Mr. Mansard... 1703.
  3. L'Europe Dressée Sur les Nouvelles observations faites en toutes les parties de la Terre Rectifiée Par Mrs. de l'Academie Royale des Sciences... 1704.
  4. Les Isles Britanniques ou sont Les Royaumes d'Angleterre d'Escosse et d'Irlande &c. ... 1698
  5. Le Royaume D'Angleterre Divisé en plusieurs Parties, subdivisées en Comtez ou Shireries... 1689
  6. Le Royaume D'Escosse Divisé en deux Parties, Subdivisées en Provinces etc... 1689
  7. Le Royaume D'Irlande Divisé en Provinces Subdivisées en Comtez et en Baronies... 169 [sic] 
  8. Les Royaumes de Suede, de Danemarck et de Norwege Divisez en plusieurs Provinces, et Gouvernemens, etc... 1691.
  9. Le Royaume de Pologne Comprenant les Etats de Pologne et de Lithuanie... 1697.
  10. Le Royaume de France Avec Ses Acquisitions Divisée en Gouvernemens de Provinces... 170 [sic]
  11. Les Environs de Paris ou sont La Prevosté, Vicomté, et la Presidial de Paris... 1698.
  12. La Province de Picardie Divisée en Haute et Basse Picardie, et Subdivisée en divers Pays... 1694.
  13. Le Gouvernement General de Champagne... 1699.
  14. Les Duchez de Lorraine et de Bar... 1696.
  15. Les Environs de la Ville, de Nancy Capitale de Duché de Lorraine... 1698.
  16. Le Duché et Gouvernement de Normandie... 1694.
  17. La Province ou Duche de Bretagne... 1703.
  18. Le Gouvernement General de Guienne et Gascogne... 1700.
  19. Direction de Bordeaux, Comprenant La Seneschaussée de Bordeaux, et Le Pays de La Nouvelle Conqueste... 1703.
  20. Le Gouvernement General de Languedoc divisé en trois Lieutenances Generales...
  21. Les Montagnes des Sevennes ou se retirent Les Fanatiques de Languedoc et les Plaines des environs ou ils font leurs courses avec les Grands Chemins Royaux... 1703.
  22. Diocese de Nismes Dresé Nouvllement sur les Lieux par le Sr. Gautier... 1698.
  23. Le Gouvernement General et Militaire du Lyonnois Comprenant les Provinces du Lyonnois, du Forez, et du Beaujolois... 1697.
  24. Le Gouvernement General du Dauphiné Divisé en Haut et Bas, Subdivisé en plusieurs Pays et en Bailliages... 169 [sic]
  25. Le Comte et Gouvernement de Provence Avec les Terres Adjacentes... 1694.
  26. L'Allemagne Divisée en Haute et Basse, et par Cercles... 1703.
  27. Theatre de la Guerre en Allemagne et dans les Pays Bas | La Partie Occidentale de L'Allemagne Avec les Pays Adjacents Le Long du Rhein... 1702.
    The following folding map constitutes the lower half of the previous title (La Partie Occidentale de la Haute Allemagne vers le Rhin avec les Pais Adiacents.)
  28. Les Provinces Unies ou la Partie Septentrionale des Pays Bas Connue sous le nom de Hollande... 1690.
  29. La partie Meridionale des Pays Bas, Connue sous le nom de Flandre Divisée en plusieurs Provinces qui sont possedees par les Roys de France et D'Espagne et par les Estats Generaux des Provinces Unies ou Hollandois... 1701.
  30. La Zelande et Partie du Comté de Flandre. | Le Brabant Hollandois et Partie du Comté de Hollande &... | Theatre de la Guerre dans les Pays-Bas ou Partie des Campements de Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne... [consituting the top half of the following map.]
  31. Carte Pour La Guerre Dans Les Pays-Bas Dedié et Presenté A Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne... 1703.
  32. Le Comté de Flandre Divisé en ses Parties, Quartiers, et Iurisdictions... 1692.
  33. Le Comté de Haynaut Divisé en plusieurs Pays etc... 1696.
  34. Le Comté de Namur... 1696.
  35. Partie des Cercles du Haut et du Bas Rhein ou Sont Partie des Archevechez de Mayence, et de Treves, et les Evechez de Wormes, et Spire Le Palatinat du Rhein... 1690.
  36. Les Suisses, Leurs Alliez; Avec les Sujets des Suisses, et des Alliez...
  37. Le Theatre de la Guerre Sur le Haut Rhein Contenant L'Asace Divisée en Haute et Basse... 1703
  38. Cercle de Baviere Divisé par Etats particulierement veux qui apartiennent A L'Electeur de Baviere au Duc de Neubourg... 1704.
  39. L'Archiduché d'Autriche divisee en 8. Quartier Avec Partie de la Moravie et de Stirie tirré des Memoires les plus Nouveaux...
  40. Le Royaume de Boheme. Divisé en 17 Cercles ou Prefectures... 1703.
  41. Le Royaume de Hongrie divisé en Haute et Basse Hongrie, avec L'Eslavonie, Subidivisees en leurs Comtez... 1687.
  42. Partie du Royaume de Hongrie, vers le Septentrion, et l'Occident. [first part]
  43. Partie du Royaume de Hongrie, vers le Septentrion, et l'Occident. [second part]
  44. Partie du Royaume de Hongrie, vers le Septentrion, et l'Occident. [third part]
  45. Le Royaume de Hongrie Divisé en Haute, et Basse, Hongrie avec L'Esclavonie, Subdivisees en leurs Comtez... 1688. [fourth part, with the above three parts]
  46. Le Cours du Danube Depuis sa source, Jusqu'a ses Embouchures ou son partie de l'Empire D'Allemagne... 1688.

Volume II:

  1. L'Espagne Divisée en plusieurs Estats et Provinces au Roy Catholique et au Roy de Portugal... 1702.
  2. Le Royaume de Galice Divisé en plusieurs Territoires et Les Asturies Divisees en Asturie d'Oviedo et de Santillana... 1704
    This map is present here in an early state without the graticulated border finished on the right edge.
  3. La Biscaye Divisée en ses 4 Parties principales et Le Royaume de Navarre Divisé en ses Merindades...
  4. Le Royaume de Portugal Divisé en Cinq Grandes Provinces et Subidivisé en plusieurs Territoires... 170 [sic]
  5. La Castille Vieille et Nouvelle Avec L'Estremadure Divisé en Estremadure de Castille et de Leon... 1704.
  6. La Principauté de Catalogne avec les Comtez de Rousillon et de Cerdagne divisée en Vieille et Nouvelle...
  7. La Principauté de Catalogne et le Comté de Roussillon... 1703.
  8. Parte Meridional de las Costas D'Españas Con Los Reynos de Granada y Andalucia...
  9. L'Italie Divisée en ses Etas Tirée des Memiores du Sr. Cantel Geographe... 1701.
  10. Les Etats de Savoye et de Piemont Dressez sur les Memoires les plus Noveaux...
  11. [Southern half of the above.]
  12. [12 pages of text:] Histoire de l'Etablissement de la Maison de Savoye, dans ses Etats, ou l'on voit par ordre genealogique, qu'elle ne s'est aggrandie, ni ne peut subsister, que par son attachement a la France. Paris: J.B. Nolin, 1691
  13. Les Vallées du Piemont Habitees par les Vaudois ou Barbets... [1690]
  14. Carte Generale du Theatre de la Guerre en Italie ou sont marquées toutes les Routes...
  15. Carte des Marches, Contremarch et Campemens des Armées Confederez de France et d'Espagne et de celle de Lempereur en Italie... 1702.
  16. Le Comté de Tirol et les Fiefs qui en dependent, avec les Eveches de Trente de Brixen et de Constance, partie des Etats de Venise, de Suisses et Grisons &c...
  17. Le Theatre General de La Guerre en Italie...
  18. L'Etat de Milan Divisé en ses Principales Parties: avec Partie des Etats de Venise et des Duches de Mantoue, de Parme, et Modene &c... 1701.
  19. Partie Septentrionale des États de Milan contenant le Duche de Milan propre le Comté d'Anghiera le Novarios &c... 1702.
  20. La Partie Meridionale des Etats de Milan ou sont le Lodesan le Pavese le Tortonese, Lomeline et Lalexandrin...
  21. Carte Tres particuliere du Bergamasco Faisant partie des Etats de la Republique de Venise... 1701.
  22. Le Cremasco De la Republique de Venise... 
  23. Carte Tres Particuliere du Bressan Faisant partie des Etats de la Republique de Venise... 1701.
  24. Territoire du Comté et du Diocese de Cremone Qui fait Partie des Etats du Duché de Milan Au Roy d'Espagne... 1702.
  25. Plan de La Ville de Cremone... 1702.
  26. L'Etat de Duc de Parme Contenant Les Duches de Parme et Plaisance et les Etats Palavicin et de Landi &c.
  27. Le Duché de Mantoue... [on sheet with] Duché de Modene de Regio et de Carpi...
  28. Le Padouan et le Polsin de Rovigo... 1701. [on sheet with] Le Territoire de Vicenza Ou sont marquées toutes les Valles Cols, Passages et Mines d'Argent... 1701.
  29. Territoire de Verone... 1701. [on sheet with] Duché et Legation de Ferrare... 1701.
  30. Le Comté et Legation de Boulogne... 1702.
  31. Fond du Golfe de Venise ou Sont les Bouches du Po et de L'Adige avec L'Istrie...
  32. Le Royaume de Naples Divisé en ses Douze Provinces... 1702.
  33. L'Isle et Royaume de Sicile faisant partie de la Monarchie d'Espagne en Italie.... 1702.
  34. Le Royaume de Dalmachie, Divisé en ses Comtez, Territoires etc. La Morlaquie, et la Bosnie...
  35. La Grece Ancienne et Moderne... 1699.
  36. L'Afrique Selon les Relations les plus Nouvelles... 1704.
  37. L'Asie Divisée en toutes ses grandes Regions Royaumes et Etats... 1704.
  38. Carte Marine Depuis Suratte jusqu'au Detroit de Malaca... 1701.
  39. La Terre Sainte Autrefois Terre de Chanaan et de Promission... 1700.
  40. Route Maritime De Brest à Siam, et de Siam à Brest, Faite en 1685 et 1686, selon les remarques des six Peres Jesuites... 1687.
  41. Royaume de Siam, avec Les Royaumes qui luy sont Tributaires, et les Isles de Sumatra, Andemaon, etc... 1687
  42. Paradigma XV Provinciarum et Clu Urbium Capitalium Sinensis Imperii Cum Templis...
  43. L'Amerique Septentrionale, ou la Partie Septentrionale des Indes Occidentales ou se trouve Le Canada ou Nouvelle France... 1704.
  44. Partie Orientale du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France ou sont les Provinces, ou Pays de Sagvenay, Canada, Acadie etc. les Peuples, ou Nations des Etechemins, Iroquois, Attiquameches etc... 1689.
  45. Partie Occidentale du Canada ou de la Nouvelle France ou sont les Nations des Ilinois, de Tracy, les Iroquois, et plusieurs autres Peuples... 1688.
  46. Le Nouveau Mexique appelé aussi Nouvelle Grenade et Marata. Avec Partie de Californie... 168 [sic]
  47. Archipelague du Mexique. ou Sont les Isles de Cuba, Espagnole, Iamaique, etc... 1688.
  48. L'Amerique Meridionale ou la Partie Meridionale des Indes Occidentales... 1704.
  49. Histoire Generale du Siecle 1700.
Condition Description
Two volumes. Folio. Contemporary full mottled calf; covers with a large central gilt tool of the French Royal Arms, gilt tools of the monogram cipher of Louis XIV in the corners (see Marius Michel, La Reliure Francaise, page 102, "Chiffre de Louis XIV"), and ruled in gilt at the edges; spines in eight compartments separated by raised bands each with gilt roll tools of leaves and flowers, gilt-lettered red morocco label in the second reading "GEOGRAFIE ET HISTOIRE DE NOLIN", and in the third "TOME*I*" (labels expertly renewed to style for volume II), the other compartments with a design of the Louis XIV monogram surrounded by fleur-de-lis and sun-faced flowers (some expert repairs to the spines of both volumes). Volume I: Engraved title with the lettering in red and gold manuscript, as issued; 4-leaf manuscript index; 45 engraved maps and prints on 65 plates (of 66, lacking the folio map of Paris "Le Plan de Paris avec une Table Alphabetique..."), most of which with original hand-color in outline. Volume II: Engraved title with lettering in red and gold manuscript, as issued; 5-leaf manuscript index; 51 engraved maps and prints on 61 plates, most of which with original hand-color in outline (some plates cleaned).
Numa Broc, "Une affair de plagiat cartographique e sous Louis XIV : le procès Delisle-Nolin" in Revue d'histoire des sciences et de leurs applications, April-June 1970, Vol. 23, No.2; Mary Pedley, The Commerce of Cartography (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005); see also Mireille Pastoureau, Les Atlas Francais XVIe-XVIIe Siècles, Nolin IV. Marius Michel, La Reliure Francaise, pg. 102.
Jean-Baptiste Nolin Biography

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.