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D'Anville's Large Map of The Gulf Coast

Nice example of D'Anville's antique map of the Gulf Coast from the Apalachicola Bay area to around the mouth of the Sabine in Texas, one of the best obtainable large format maps of the region from this period.

D'Anville's map derives from the manuscript maps of Valentin Devin. Devin arrived in Louisiana in January 1719 as part of an expedition to explore and chart the coastline of Louisiana for John Law's Compagnie d'Occident (Company of the West, also known as the Mississippi Company). Over the course of the next decade, Devin would produce a number of important survey maps of the various bays and coastal regions that make up this region, along with some general maps of the coastline between Texas and the Fort Crevecoeur area, which served as the models for this map.

In the east, the map notes Fort Crevecoeur (1717-1722) and an unnamed Spanish Fort (constructed in 1719). The Bays of Pensacola, Mobile, and Pascagoula are extensively surveyed and include detailed soundings.

The map notes Biloxi and Vieux (Old) Biloxi (Fort Maurepas), which is identified as the first settlement established in Louisiana in 1699, which would serve as its capital until 1719, when it was relocated to Mobile. Up the Mobile River, Fort Louis is noted, established in 1702 and abandoned in 1711.

The map tracks the Mississippi River, Arkansas River, Red River, Osage River and Missouri Rivers, and includes excellent large inset of the Mississippi River Valley from the Arkansas to above the Missouri Rivers. The detail along the Mississippi, both in the main map and the inset of the northern regions, is quite impressive for the period.

The detail along the Pascagoula River is quite impressive, including some very early Indian Roads, extending inland to Coue-tchitou ou Village du Grand-Chef, Okitbea, Concah, Concha-tchitou, Tchkachae, etc.

The detail along the Mobile Rivers is also quite impressive for the time period, extending north to the Riviere de Alibamons and the Alibamons (Alabama) Indian region.

It is known that Thomas Jefferson acquired 7 of D'Anville's maps in 1787, almost certainly, this was one of them. Jefferson commented to Gallatin about the importance of this map. Meriwether Lewis obtained a copy before the Lewis & Clark Expedition.

JBB D'Anville was one of the dominant names in French Cartography after 1740, publishing some large format maps and made-to-order atlases, containing the best contemporary information. Most of the information is derived from Valentin Devin, who arrived in Pensacola in 1719 (under the auspices of John Law's Company of the West) and began producing highly regarded maps immediately upon his arrival on the Gulf Coast until he was expelled by the Spanish after a three-year struggle. Devin used his information and materials gathered from Le Maire and others to produce several manuscript maps which were sent back to France and resulted in a series of marvelous maps by De L'Isle, Buache and finally D'Anville, whose maps of the Gulf Coast formed the standard for many years.

One of the best large format maps of the period.

Condition Description
Engraved map on two sheets of laid paper joined as one. Bottom margin a little unevenly trimmed but still ample from the neatline.
Flags Along The Coast, p.94.
Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville Biography

Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697-1782) was one of the foremost French geographers of the eighteenth century. He carried out rigorous research in order to create his maps, which greatly developed the technical proficiency of mapmaking during his lifetime. His style was also simpler and less ornate than that of many of his predecessors. It was widely adopted by his contemporaries and successors.

The son of a tailor, d’Anville showed cartographic prowess from a young age; his first map, of Ancient Greece, was published when he was only fifteen years old. By twenty-two, he was appointed as one of the King’s géographes ordinaire de roi. He tutored the young Louis XV while in the service to the Crown. However, royal appointment did not pay all the bills, so d’Anville also did some work for the Portuguese Crown from 1724. For example, he helped to fill out Dom João V’s library with geographical works and made maps showing Portugal’s African colonies.  

D’Anville disapproved of merely copying features from other maps, preferring instead to return to the texts upon which those maps were based to make his own depictions. This led him to embrace blank spaces for unknown areas and to reject names which were not supported by other sources. He also amassed a large personal map library and created a network of sources that included Jesuits in China and savants in Brazil. D’Anville’s historical approach to cartography resulted in magnificently detailed, yet modern and academic, maps. For example, his 1743 map of Italy improved upon all previous maps and included a memoir laying out his research and innovations. The geographer also specialized in ancient historical geography.

In 1773, d’Anville was named premier géographe de roi. In 1780, he ceded his considerable library to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to be used for as a reference library for diplomats. D’Anville is best known for several maps, including his map of China, first published in 1735, and then included with Du Halde’s history of that country (the Hague, 1737). His map of Africa (1749) was used well into the nineteenth century.