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Stock# 90474

Alternate Name for the Mississippi!

Interesting geographical text and set of maps used to teach geography in France at the start of the 18th century.

This is the second edition of de Fer's work, which was first published in 1716. It lays out the principles of geographic instruction, covering the use of globes and celestial tools. It then covers the peoples, mountain ranges, waterways, cities, and climates of the world.

The map of the Americas includes an alternate name for the Mississippi, presenting it as the Colbert River. This reflects one of the earliest names that the river was given when it was initially named after the economic advisor to Louis XIV.


De Fer included the following maps and folding engravings in the work:

  • Mappe-Monde ou Carte Generale de la Terre
    • This double-hemisphere world map includes California as an island, an outline of Western Australia, and a mysterious South Pacific landmass. Below the map are portraits of engravers including Dampierre, Magellan, Drake, Columbus, Vespucci, Marco Polo, and Schouten.
  • La Sphere Artificielle
    • This engraving presents a celestial globe, a terrestrial globe, and an armillary sphere, along with instructions for use.
  • L'Europe Suivant els Nouvelles Observations
  • L'Asie Suivant les Nouvelles Decouvertes
  • L'Afrique Dressee Selon les Derniers Relat.
  • L'Amerique Meridionale et Septentrionale
    • The map of the Americas includes California as an island, the mythical mines of Quivira in the American Southwest, the location of Santa Fe in the southwest, and an alternate name for the Mississippi, the Colbert River

The maps are particularly interesting for their slightly retrograde design. The map of North America, in particular, includes a rugged coastline throughout, with many capes, bays, and islands which was not usually favored by French cartographers.


[Title]; [Folding]; 1-6; [Folding]; 7-22; [Folding]; 23-60; [Folding]; 61-102; [Folding]; 103-148; [Folding]; 149-197; [9].

Condition Description
Octavo. Speckled calf. Spine raised in six compartments with gilt floral designs and red morocco pastedowns. Six folding maps. Wear to hinges and slight bumping.
Nicolas de Fer Biography

Nicholas de Fer (1646-1720) was the son of a map seller, Antoine de Fer, and grew to be one of the most well-known mapmakers in France in the seventeenth century. He was apprenticed at twelve years old to Louis Spirinx, an engraver. When his father died in 1673, Nicholas helped his mother run the business until 1687, when he became the sole proprietor.

His earliest known work is a map of the Canal of Languedoc in 1669, while some of his earliest engravings are in the revised edition of Methode pour Apprendre Facilement la Geographie (1685). In 1697, he published his first world atlas. Perhaps his most famous map is his wall map of America, published in 1698, with its celebrated beaver scene (engraved by Hendrick van Loon, designed by Nicolas Guerard). After his death in 1720, the business passed to his sons-in-law, Guillaume Danet and Jacques-Francois Benard.