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Early Edition of “The first printed map to show Texas” (Tooley)

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288.     [MAP]. DELISLE, Guillaume. Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi Dressée sur un grand nombre de mémoires entr’autres sur ceux de Mr. le Maire Par Guillme. de l’Isle de l’Académie Rle. des Sciences. [lower portion of map between Golfe du Mexique and scale] À Amsterdam | Chez Jean Covens et Corneille Mortier Géographes. [inset map at lower right showing the Mississippi Delta area, New Orleans, and Mobile Bay] Carte Particulière des Embouchures de la Rivière S. Louis et de la Mobile. Amsterdam, [1730]. Copper-engraved map showing the area from Lake Champlain to New Mexico and south to Florida and Texas, on laid rag paper, original outline hand coloring in pale yellow, small compass rose at lower center. Neat line to neat line: 43.7 x 60.1 cm; map image and title: 44.5 x 60.1 cm; area visible from mat: 46.5 x 60.2 cm; inset map: 11.5 x 14.5 cm. Light vertical crease, else fine, a strong impression. Matted, framed, and under Plexiglas.

     Third edition of Delisle’s epochal prototype 1718 map of the same name (“French Mapping of the Americas: The De l’Isle, Buache, Dezauche Succession, 1700-1830” in Tooley: The Mapping of America, p. 21, #43), the first accurate delineation of the Mississippi Valley system and “the first printed map to show Texas.” A second edition came out in 1727, much reduced in size (Tooley, p. 22, #44). This Covens and Mortier incarnation is quite different and notably superior, because it is actually a re-engraved copy of the revised issue of Delisle’s 1718 map with New Orleans added (Tooley, p. 22, #45). The map first appeared in its present form (very slightly reduced from the 1718 dimensions) in Covens and Mortier’s Atlas nouveau… (Amsterdam, 1730), the earliest known re-issue of Delisle’s atlas by Covens and Mortier. Tooley notes that the present map is a “re-engraved copy of the original issue [1718]” and “several later editions were issued of the Covens and Mortier Atlas, but the map did not change.” Cumming 208: “One of the most important mother maps of the North American continent.” De Renne III:1195-1196. Koeman, Covens & Mortier 3 (indicating a 1730 publication date, based on the height of the sheet of the present copy). Phillips, America, p. 367. Cf. Rumsey 4638.095 (listing a 1730 version found in a 1742 edition of Covens & Mortier’s Atlas). Every scholar who discusses Delisle’s important map of the Mississippi Valley waxes eloquently.

     References to the 1718 edition: Buisseret, Mapping the French Empire in America 12. Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 48-51: “A significant map in Western American history and a work by one of the greatest mapmakers of all time. The map revealed for the first time the importance of the Missouri River and gave the most accurate delineation of the Mississippi Valley up to that time… [Delisle’s] passion for pure scientific accuracy is reflected on his maps. If geographic information had not been directly observed by a reliable source, he refused to acknowledge it. Many longstanding myths and errors that had been passed from mapmaker to mapmaker for generations were suddenly absent on Delisle’s maps.” Cumming 170: “One of the most important mother maps of the North American continent… It is for the Mississippi valley, particularly the Gulf area, that the cartography of this map is notable for employment of new information, wealth of detail, and relative accuracy.” Jackson, Flags along the Coast, p. 44. Karpinski 50. Kohl 238. Lemmon, et al., Charting Louisiana: Five Hundred Years of Maps, p. 58. Lowery 288. Paullin, p. 12. Portinaro & Knirsch, Plate CXII. Pritchard & Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude: Mapping Colonial America, pp. 118-121. Rumsey 4764.098. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Mapping of America, pp. 140-143, Plate 84. Tooley, “French Mapping of the Americas” in The Mapping of America 43, Plate 11: “The first detailed map of the Gulf Region and the Mississippi, the first printed map to show Texas, the first to show the land routes of earlier centuries—De Soto in 1539-40 and his successor Moscoso in 1542, Cavelier in 1687, Tonty in 1702 and the recent route of Denis in 1713 & 1716”; Landmarks of Mapmaking, p. 229. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #99: “Important cartographic monument”; Vol. I, pp. 66-67: “This great 1718 Delisle map was apparently reissued many times with only slight changes in the areas here under consideration, and during the remainder of the eighteenth century it was copied, in whole or in part, by most of the leading cartographers of Europe. Apparently Delisle obtained much of his information directly from the French explorers and administrators in New France, and his efforts represented distinct advances in the mapping of the American West.” Martin & Martin 19:

[Delisle’s] most important achievement for North American cartography came in 1718, with the publication of his Carte de la Louisiane et du Cours du Mississipi. Because of its accurate information on the Mississippi and its tributaries, this map served throughout the eighteenth century as the prototype for most subsequent renderings of that great river. It was, moreover, a politically provocative map: what Delisle labelled Florida in 1703 then appeared as the unmistakably French territory of Louisiana, stretching from the Rio Grande in the west to the Appalachians in the east. Angry protests from the British and Spanish governments against this cartographic usurpation were followed by a cartographic war, in which the map makers of each country issued productions showing their own territorial claims. Politics aside, Delisle’s rendering of Texas was a distinct improvement over previously published attempts. It featured an improved depiction of the river system and a much more accurate view of the coast. It also credibly delineated for the first time the land routes of all of the important explorers, including de Soto and Moscoso in 1540 and 1542, La Salle in 1687, and de Leon in 1689. Delisle’s sources were also clearly revealed by the many references to St. Denis’s explorations; the currency of his information was evident from the appearance of Natchitoches on the Red River, founded only the year before the map was printed. Throughout the map appeared the ranges of many Indian tribes and the locations of their villages, while boldly displayed along the Texas coast is the legend “nomadic and man-eating Indians,” presumably referring to the Karankawa tribes that caused La Salle so much grief. The most important notation to Texas history, however, was that appearing along the Trinity: “Mission de los Teijas, etablie en 1716.” Referring to the earliest of the Spanish missions in East Texas, this phrase marked the first appearance of a form of the name Texas on a printed map and thus Delisle has received proper credit for establishing Texas as a geographic place name.

Angry protests from the British and Spanish governments against the French cartographic pretensions of this map were followed by a war waged in maps, as the cartographers of each country staked nationalistic territorial claims on paper. Among features and text shown in Texas are tribes, tracks of explorers, El Paso, Presidio del Norte, LaSalle’s fort, the place where LaSalle was murdered, the Cenis tribe (where the note “Mission de los Teijas etablie en 1716” is found), “Mines de Plomb” (lead mines), and the Texas coast reportedly inhabited by wandering cannibals.


Sold. Hammer: $2,000.00; Price Realized: $2,400.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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