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“Kino’s Revolutionary Map”-Burrus

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323.     [MAP]. [KINO, Eusebio Francisco]. Passage par Terre à la Californie Découverte par le Rev. Père Eusebe-François Kino Jésuite depuis 1698 jusqu’à 1701 où l’on voit encore les Nouvelles Missions des PP. de la Compage. de Jesus [upper right below neat line] Tom. 8. Pag. 52. [lower left above neat line] Gravée par Inselin, folded copper-engraved map on watermarked laid paper, neat line to neat line: 23 x 21.5 cm; overall sheet size: 24.6 x 24.3 cm. Folded, as issued. Very fine.

     The map is misbound in Vol. VII (rather than Volume VIII) of Lettres Édifiantes et Curieuses, Écrites des Missions Étrangères. Nouvelle Édition. Mémoires d’Amérique. Tome Septième. Paris: J.G. Mérigot le jeune, Libraire, Quai des Augustins, au coin de la rue Pavée, 1781. [1-5] 6-456 pp., map as indicated above. 12mo (17 x 10 cm), contemporary full sheep, gilt-stamped spine with raised bands, old paper spine label with title lettered in ink, marbled endpapers. Binding very poor (worn, flayed, some board exposed at extremities and corners, spine cracked). Text wants leaf a1 (half title?), otherwise interior is fine. Old European library ink stamps on title and p. [5] (none on map).

     Kino’s momentous map of California first appeared in print in 1705 in the first edition of the collected Jesuit letters (see next paragraph). The present engraving differs in only one respect from the 1705 edition, which had at top left an engraved instruction to the binder: V. Rec. Pag. 248. In the present edition, the binder instruction has been moved to the upper right and altered to: Tom. 8. Pag. 52. Cartographic references to the 1705 map: California 49: Forty-Nine Maps of California from the Sixteenth Century to the Present, Map 11 & pp. 22-23n. Cumming, Exploration 236, Plate 379. Kohl 289n. Leighly, California as an Island, pp. 40-42n. Lowery 250n. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Plate 75. Streeter Sale 2424 (remarking on the map): “The map is remarkably accurate, and remained the best map of much of the area until the twentieth century.” Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 483. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #89n & Vol. I, p. 76: “Kino’s map exerted a great influence on contemporary cartography, especially after the French mapmaker, Guillaume Delisle, adopted the redoubtable missionary’s thesis.”

     References to Jesuit relations: The present book is Volume VII of the second edition of the compiled Jesuit relations, first published at Paris in 34 parts between 1702 and 1776 (the Píccolo account and Kino’s map appeared in Volume 5, published in 1705). See: Backer VI:725. Barrett, Baja California 1470. Bell J72. JCB II:2654. Cowan I, pp. 139-140. Cowan II, p. 390. European Americana 1705/101. Howes L299. Lande 472. Palau 136972-136973. Sabin 40697-40698. Streeter Sale 2424. Streit III:21. Thwaites LXVI:302. TPL 258. Wagner, Spanish Southwest 74a. The second edition was enlarged, corrected, and arranged by geographic region (Volumes VI to IX relate to America). The present volume does not include Píccolo’s account.

     Kino (1645-1711), Jesuit missionary-priest, explorer, cartographer, and father of ranching in the Southwest, is a towering figure in Spanish Southwest, Borderlands, and Mexican history (see Thrapp, Encyclopedia of Frontier Biography II, p. 786 & Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition, Vol. III, p. 31). For Kino, the question of whether California was an island was not an ambiguous, cerebral carto-academic question, but rather a practical issue best settled by actually exploring the land in question. The cost of transporting cattle and grain across the stormy Gulf of California from the mainland to the first permanent settlement and mission at Loreto (1697) threatened bankruptcy for the missions. Solving this fiscal dilemma was the impetus for Kino’s effort to discover a land passage from the mainland to the Californias, which he rapidly and efficiently accomplished in 1698. Kino sent his 1701 manuscript map and treatise to Jesuit Bartolomé Alcázar, scholar, scientist, and influential writer, in Spain. Alcázar re-drew Kino’s original map and submitted it to Charles Inselin, renowned French engraver of the finest maps of his time (see Le Gear, United States Atlases V, p. 559 & Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers, revised edition, Vol. II, p. 410). The Jesuits published the map in 1705, and the map appeared in print repeatedly in Europe for decades. Kino believed his evidence was sufficient to prove beyond doubt that California was a peninsula, yet the “California as an Island” myth was not fully abandoned until the next century.

     Kino’s map is discussed extensively and illustrated by Burrus (Kino and the Cartography of Northwestern New Spain, see especially pp. 17-20, 24, 46-50). In the text on Plate X illustrating Kino’s 1705 engraved map of peninsular California, Burrus refers to the map as the “best known of all his maps” and answers his own rhetorical question as to why the map has special significance (p. 50):

First, it records his rediscovery (after three-quarters of a century primacy of the insular theory of California) of the true configuration of the peninsula. Secondly, this fact is established by an eyewitness. Thirdly, the land passage is at a relatively short distance from the missions and towns already founded in northwestern Mexico. Fourthly, the location of the Colorado and Gila Rivers, their confluence, their course and several of their tributaries, are established with a precision hitherto unknown. Fifthly, the recently founded Jesuit missions in Lower California are recorded cartographically for the first time. This had particular importance in view of Píccolo’s 1702 printed report of the Jesuit enterprise in Lower California; inasmuch as he did not include a map of his own, editors, on reprinting his account, regularly reproduced Kino’s 1701 map to accompany it. Lastly, Kino’s revolutionary map was given exceptionally wide publicity in the most popular publications at the time and also in the most scientific reviews and books. Europe’s most outstanding map-makers took notice of it. At first they merely mentioned the rediscovery of the peninsularity of California, often underscoring the fact that it had been made by an eyewitness; gradually the geographic reality was recognized by more and more cartographers, geographers, and historians. The insular theory had been put on trial and before a century had passed would be condemned to prudent silence if not death.

Although the majority of the letters in this volume originate from South America or the West Indies, the letters from Vivier and Du Petit concern North America, the former written from the Illinois territory (1730) and the latter from New Orleans (ca. 1750). See next item for English edition.


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