California as an Island

Pirated from Father Kino

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292. [MAP]. FER, Nicolas de. Cette Carte de Californie et du Nouveau Mexique, est tirée de celle qui a êté envoyée par un grand d’Espagne pour être communiquée a Mrs. de l’Academie Royale des Sciences. Par N. de Fer Geographe de Monseigneur le Dauphin Avec privilege du Roy 1700 A Paris dans l’Isle du Palais sur le quay de l’Orloge a la Sphere Royale [above neat line, to right of cartouche] C. Inselin Sculps. [10 columns of text at top]. Paris, 1700. Copper-engraved map of California as an Island, the Gulf of California, mainland from Gran Quivira and Nuevo Mexico to Compostela-Mexico City, on laid paper, original outline coloring, simple line cartouche, small compass rose, 314 place locations keyed to numbers; neat line to neat line: 22.5 x 34 cm; overall sheet size: 28.5 x 44.5 cm. Mild staining at upper blank margin (not affecting map image), otherwise very fine.

     First state (reissued in 1705). This map, one of three maps pirated by Nicholas de Fer from Father Kino, was one of the first to show Kino’s important discoveries in the Southwest. Kino’s original manuscript map is in Rome and dated 1696. Fer’s map is sometimes referred to as the last significant map to show California as an island. Leighly, California as an Island 110n. Lowery 245. McLaughlin, The Mapping of California as an Island 134 (noting appearance of the map in the 1700 and 1705 editions of Fer’s L’Atlas curieux and in 1701 in T’Sersteuen’s Cartes et sujet de la succession...D’Espagne). Phillips, Atlases 546:10. Tooley, California as an Island 62: “Highly important map... Very unusual.” Wagner, Cartography of the Northwest Coast 462. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #78 & I, pp. 45-46: “[One of] two important maps which appeared at the very close of the seventeenth century.... The prototype was probably drawn by Sigüenza.... This map’s author seems to have had access to many of Father Eusebio Kino’s early notes. California is still an island, but in what is now southern Arizona is the interesting legend ‘Cala [for Casa] Grande descubierto 27 Nov. 1694.’ This notation, even to repetitions of the date, was used on a multitude of maps over a number of years. It refers to the discovery of Casa Grande by Father Eusebio Kino in November 1694.”

     Burrus, Kino and the Cartography of Northwestern New Spain, Plate XIV, p. 65-66:

Charles Inselin engraved Kino’s 1695-1696 map, and Nicolas de Fer published it in [1700 and] 1705...omitting Kino’s title and summary of expeditions to California, and without a word of acknowledgment to him. To save space Fer designated the mainland settlements by numbers (1 to 314) and then gave their respective names in a special list. In the map’s legend Fer observed: “This map of California and New Mexico is derived from the one sent by a grandee of Spain to be given to the Royal Academy of Sciences. [It is published] by N. de Fer, geographer of his Highness the Dauphin; with royal privilege, 1705, Paris, on the island of the palace, at the quay of the clock near the royal sphere.”

     For more on California as an Island, see W. Michael Mathes, “The Mythological Geography of California: Origins, Development, Confirmation and Disappearance” in The Americas, Vol. 45, No. 3, January, 1989, pp. 314-341. Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers (revised edition) (Vol. II, pp. 59-60) has a long article on the Fer family, noting that Nicolas de Fer of Paris (1646-1720) was “Geographe ordinaire de Sa Majeste” and took over the family firm in 1687 from his mother, building it into a flourishing map publishing business.

     South Texas is shown, with the mouth of the Mississippi River emptying from its coast.


Sold. Hammer: $800.00; Price Realized: $980.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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