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The Mississippi Bubble Map

Rare map of the Mississippi River Valley and Great Lakes regions from Het Groote Tafereel der Dwaasheid…, published in Amsterdam in 1720. The work details the history of John Law's failed financial attempt to open up Louisiana to settlement and investment on behalf of the French Government.

The map emphasizes the French possessions and Indian settlements in the Mississippi River Valley. Numerous forts, proposed colonial settlements, and Indian villages are located as well as Mines de St. Barbe. The map is decorated with a title cartouche incorporating the arms of John Law and a crest showing two Native Americans holding a large golden horn of plenty from which the Mississippi flows.

The tributary rivers of the Mississippi include the R. Ouisconsing and R. Otenta (Missouri River).

The present map is one of the earliest maps to locate a number of early French towns and fortifications, including:

  • Orleans nouvo camp (New Orleans)
  • Pensacoli
  • F. Louis
  • Isle Dauphine
  • Fort de Crevecouer (on the Illinois River)
  • Fort de Miamis (an early location of Chicago on the Lac de Illinois -- Lake Michigan)

The map draws heavily from Hennepin's map, showing Lac de Illinois, rather than Lake Michigan. Fort St. Louis is Shown in Pensacola. The extent of the French explorations, along with a Indian tribes are shown throughout.

John Law (1671-1729), the son of an Edinburgh banker and successful financier is best known for his role in establishing the Banque Générale in France in 1715 and founding the Compagnie de l'Occident for the exploitation of the resources of French Louisiana after Antoine Crozat had surrendered his charter in 1717. Initially, Law's reputation caused the stock in the Compagnie de l'Occident to sell readily, and the organization soon enlarged the scope of its activities by absorbing other commercial companies, its name than being changed to the 'Company of the Indies'. Enormous profits were anticipated and the increasing demand for its stock led to wild speculation. The anticipated immense and immediate profits were not realized, and soon the scheme revealed itself as a purely speculative venture. In 1720 the company failed, the bubble burst, and the stockholders lost their entire investment, many being completely ruined, leaving the French nation on the verge of bankruptcy.

An essential map for Mississippi and Great Lakes Collectors.