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Fine, Rare Four-Sheet Map of the World

Scarce four-sheet wall map of the world on Mercator's projection, published in Paris by Pierre Du Val, Geographer to Louis XIV, the Sun King.

Du Val's remarkable world map highlights the primary trading routes to and from Europe and the East and West Indies. The map also shows the routes of Jacob Le Maire and Willem Schouten, an incomplete, unnamed 1665 expedition toward the East via North America’s fabled Northwest Passage, and another incomplete route sailing east from Europe to the East via the fabled Northeast Passage around Nowelle Zemle. Illustrations of ships are placed on several of the routes detailed on this map.

Du Val's map may have been intended to promote the continuing search for trade routes by way of the Northwest and Northeast Passages to Japan and China. Although neither route shown here is complete, they are drawn confidently, suggesting their existence as fact. This search for new, faster trade routes captured the European imagination for centuries and served as the primary motivation for many famous voyages.

The title cartouche is finely illustrated with allegorical figures, a sun, and a globe held up by matching fish. The legend cartouche is also exceptionally illustrated with a set of mermen blowing shell trumpets. Four additional cartouches are aligned along the bottom border with text describing relevant facts for each continent. The cartouche for the Americas is separated from the others and is more ornately adorned, fully encircled as it is by a wreath held by a bird.

The map is filled with fascinating cartographic details. Discoveries by Abel Tasman (and Willem Jansz and Jan Carstenz before him) are evidenced by the complete island of New Guinea and the coasts of Australia (New Holland, Carpenteria), Tasmania (Van Diemen’s Land), and New Zealand. Annotations reference other sailors and explorers such as Juan Fernandez and Hendrik Brouwer.

The known locations of shallow reefs are shown as small cross marks on this map. One such reef located in the Indian Ocean is labeled ‘Trial’ in reference to the 1622 wreckage of the English East India Company vessel the Trial (or Tryall) off the coast of Australia while attempting the Southern (aka Brouwer) route from the Cape of Good Hope to the Dutch East Indies via the Roaring Forties.

Popular cartographic myths such as the island of California and the unknown southern continent (marked here as Terre de Quir) abound. New Zealand’s western coast discovered by Tasman is depicted as part of the southern continent.

Maarten Gerritz de Vries

Evidence of Maarten Gerritz de Vries’ 1643 expedition in the southern Kuril Islands area is reflected on this map: the Detriot de Vriez, Staten Land (Terre des Estats), and Company Land (Terre de la Compagnie) are all marked. Terre de Iesso ou Eso, a misconception of the Japanese island of Hokkaido, was posited by de Vries as located near or connected to America. The cartography of this map leaves these options open: Terre de Iesso, drawn only partially and separated from California by the Straits of Anian, seems to suggest connection to North America but does not show it directly.

Tasman, Gonneville, and the unknown southern continent

Although Tasman’s expeditions were viewed as failures by the VOC, since he did not provide a novel shipping route or trade possibility, his contributions to cartographic knowledge of the region were nevertheless important. Over the course of his two major explorations (1642-1644), Dutch East India Company (VOC) navigator Abel Tasman recorded much of the coasts of Australia (New Holland), part of Tasmania (which he named Van Diemen’s Land) and the west coast of New Zealand. His loose circumnavigation of Australia proved that the Australian continent was separate from the unknown southern continent.

One this map, the southern continent has several names. In the Pacific, it is labeled Terre De Quir, after Pedro Fernández de Quirós, who led a 1605 expedition in search of the continent and supported its existence fervently. Farther east, it is called the Antarctic or Austral lands, and is also associated with Magellan, leader of the first circumnavigation (1519-1522).

Even father east, there is mention of Terre de Perroquets. Psitacorum regio appeared on Mercator’s 1541 globe and his 1569 world map in approximately the position Du Val has it. It was supposed to have been sighted by Portuguese sailors. However, Du Val goes on to say that the area has French ties. He writes of Terre de Perroquets, “Where in the year 1504 approached one named Gonneville who brought back Essonier, son of King Arosca.”

In 1664, the Abbé de Paulmier hatched a plan to convert the citizens of the Southern Continent. To bolster his request for an expedition, Paulmier produced a pamphlet outlining the known geography of the area. To argue that Terra Australis does indeed exist, the Abbe cited the account of a French explorer, Gonneville, who had apparently sailed to a southland in the early sixteenth century. En route to the Spice Islands, Gonneville and his crew were supposedly blown far off course while rounding the Cape of Good Hope. They found themselves in a fertile, inhabited land. In 1504, Gonneville was to have returned to Normandy with Essonier, the prince of the land he had visited. Essonier settled in Normandy and had a family; Paulmier claimed to be his great grandson, hence his interest in the venture.  

If corroborated, Gonneville’s landing south of the Cape of Good Hope would claim Terra Australis for France by right of first discovery. The problem was, there was no prior mention of Gonneville before the Abbé’s petition (1654) and pamphlet (1664). Nevertheless, Gonneville’s “discoveries” in the south Indian Ocean began to be incorporated into maps from as early as 1661; du Val’s is one of the earliest to do so, according to Gonneville scholar Margaret Sankey. Until James Cook’s second expedition in the late-eighteenth century, French efforts at South Seas discovery would continue to focus on the elusive Gonneville’s Land.   

The unmarked 1665 Northwest Passage route, likely that of Pierre-Esprit Radisson

The 1665 voyage via a Northwest Passage is unmarked on this map but it may not be anonymous. Given the timing of the issue of the map (first published in 1679), this may in fact be a reference to the failed voyage of Pierre-Esprit Radisson to Hudson's Bay in 1665. Radisson had a remarkable life as a Canadian fur trader and explorer; his resume included a number of shifts of allegiance back and forth between the French and English. 

Born in France in the late 1630s, Radisson migrated to Canada by 1651, where he found work in the fur trade. In 1652, he was captured by the Iroquois, but managed to culturally assimilate and survive long enough to be ransomed at Fort Orange in 1653. Radisson spent the next several years as a Jesuit missionary in Canada. 

From 1658 to 1684, Radisson's primary activity was as a fur trader and explorer. Radisson spent time on the shores of Lake Superior, establishing some successful trade contacts with his partner Groseilliers among the Indians before returning to Quebec in 1660. While the enterprise was successful, Radisson met with unexpected hostility from the local governor, who attempted to levy a higher tax on his trade. This hostility persuaded Radisson and Groseilliers to base themselves out of Boston for their next ventures.

During their 1659–1660 expedition, Radisson and Groseilliers repeatedly heard reports of a “salt sea,” an area with an abundance of good furs. They decided this must refer to Hudson Bay. Their first voyage to Hudson Bay was unsuccessful and they were forced to make their way back to Boston. A second attempt failed to materialize the following year. 

With the support of the newly-crowned Charles II of England, they made a third unsuccessful attempt in 1665 to reach Hudson's Bay, the voyage most likely chronicled on this map. Radisson enlisted Prince Rupert of the Rhine, King Charles II's first cousin, to champion the Radisson-Groseillers project of fur trading on the shores of Hudson's Bay. In 1670, Radisson received a royal charter giving him and his partners the exclusive rights to the land surrounding Hudson Bay, ultimately founding the Hudson's Bay Company (HBC).    

Both Radisson and Groseilliers operated within the Hudson's Bay Company with the support of Prince Rupert and the Company's director Sir John Robinson. Radisson and Groseilliers were successful in raising capital from the City of London in order to fund the Company’s operations. As anti-French and anti-Catholic sentiment increased in England, however, Radisson left London in 1675 to reenter the service of France.

In 1677, Radisson joined the French Navy and fought in the Franco-Dutch War. Following his service, he attempted to rejoin the HBC was rejected. In 1681 Radisson attempted to found a fort on the Nelson River under a French flag but without the explicit support of the French state. He recruited his old friend Groseilliers the following year to build a more permanent base.

In the 1680s, Radisson did gain employment in the HBC again, but was removed from office after accusing the superintendent of the York Factory of misconduct. He retired to London on an HBC pension, dying there in 1710.


According to Shirley, each of the four sheets which comprise this very rare wall map were published separately. There are two states of the map, the first from 1679 and this second state dated 1684.

Both states are extremely rare on the market. We note only two examples in dealer catalogs, with none listed since 2001.

Margaret Sankey, "The Abbé Paulmier’s Mémoires and Early French Voyages in Search of Terra Australis," in Discovery and Empire: The French in the South Seas, ed. John West-Sooby (Adelaide: University of Adelaide, 2013), 41-68; John Leighly, California as an Island: An Illustrated Essay (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1972); Glen McLaughlin with Nancy H. Mayo, “The Mapping of California as an Island: An Illustrated Checklist,” California Map Society Occasional Papers, 5 (1995); Dora Beale Polk, The Island of California: A History of the Myth (Spokane: Arthur H. Clark Company, 1991); Seymour I. Schwartz with Ralph E. Ehrenberg, The Mapping of America, (Edison, N.J.: Wellfleet, 2001); Rodney W. Shirley, The Mapping of the World: Early Printed World Maps, 1472-1700, 4th ed (Riverside, CT: Early World Press, 2001): map 489; Lawrence C. Wroth, "The Early Cartography Of The Pacific," The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 38 (1944): 87. ACA.
Pierre Du Val Biography

Pierre Duval (1618-1683) was a French geographer, cartographer, and publisher who worked in Abbeville and Paris during the seventeenth century. He was born in the former city, in northeast France, before moving to Paris. Duval was the nephew of the famous cartographer Nicolas Sanson, from whom he learned the mapmaker's art and skills. Both men worked at the royal court, having followed the royal request for artists to relocate to Paris. In addition to numerous maps and atlases, Du Val's opus also includes geography texts. He held the title of geographe ordinaire du roi from 1650 and died in 1683, when his wife and daughters took over his business.