Early Issue of Homann’s Baroque Rehash of Delisle’s Landmark Map

Excellent Copy with Original Color & in a Strong, Dark Impression

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311. [MAP]. HOMANN, Johann Baptist. Regni Mexicani seu Novæ Hispaniæ, Floridæ, Novæ Angliæ, Carolinæ, Virginiæ et Pensylvaniæ, necnam Insvlarvm archipelagi Mexicaniin America Septentrionali accurata Tabula exhibita À Ioh. Baptista Homanno Noribergæ. Nuremberg, [ca. 1712]. Copper-engraved map on one sheet of laid paper, original outline and vibrant wash coloring, uncolored decorative cartouche at upper left (includes Native Americans, one in feathered headdress holding bow and arrow, another with a pipe; buffalo head, furs, bounty of fish and game); complex mining scene at upper right (Native Americans displaying treasure to Europeans against a backdrop of mountains where men are mining); flamboyant naval scene at lower left (battle with large sailing ship at left, many other ships and small boats, treasure chests, smoke, fire, flags, etc.). Neat line to neat line: 47.5 x 56.5 cm; overall sheet size: 53.1 x 60 cm. Original atlas tab on verso, contemporary ink ms. note on verso “15.” Very fine, strong impression with excellent original color as issued (Portinaro & Knirsch state that Homann “was one of the first to color his maps at origin, although, except for special clients, he usually left his cartouches and scrolls plain”—The Cartography of North America. 1500-1800, p. 31).

     This is the early issue of Homann’s elaborate version of Delisle’s 1703 Carte du Mexique et de la Floride (see herein). Homann later replaced Florida in the title with Louisiana to reflect political changes due to the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) and French expansion into Louisiana in the following decade. The cartouche of the present map does not have the added engraved note regarding Homann’s privilege as Imperial Geographer, which he was granted before August 17, 1715, with a ten-year privilege. Homann and his heirs were enthusiastic, commercial recyclers of their copper plates; for the second issue of this map, see next entry. This early issue is rarer than the later issue because of the rapid ascension of France in the Mississippi Valley, which led to an emphasis on the term Louisiana. The appearance in the title of the place name Florida rather than Louisiana was a short-lived occurrence in the history of Homann’s long-lived map.

     Homann sold his maps by three methods: as separates, in the firm’s pre-arranged atlas, and in atlases made to order for individual clients. The present map most likely first appeared in Homann’s Neuer Atlas (ca. 1710 or 1712-1730; see Phillips, Atlases 3474). Bornholt, Cuatro Siglos de Expresiones Geográficas del Istmo Centroamericano Plate 67 & p. 127 (second issue). Cumming, Southeast in Early Maps 137 (noting Delisle’s 1703 map and remarking that Homann frequently included his version of the map in his atlases). Martin & Martin, Plate 17 (second issue). Portinaro & Knirsch, The Cartography of North America, 1500-1800, Plate CXV & pp. 226 (second issue). Ryhiner Collection Ryh 7815:11. Sellers & Van Ee 82 (numerous undifferentiated copies).

     This pictorial map covers most of what is now the United States. The entire area shown is roughly from the Great Lakes south to northern Venezuela, and from the Antilles Islands west to present-day New Mexico (including Zuni lands and Sinaloa). The Southwest U.S., New England, the Carolinas, the Gulf Coast, and Louisiana have good detail and many place names. Located are boundaries, towns and cities, forts, Native American villages and territory, route of the Spanish galleons, etc. All of what is now Texas is shown, and the Rio Grande runs north to Taos. Regarding the many imitators of Delisle’s map, Martin & Martin archly comment on the Baroque style of Homann and others:

Delisle’s maps were pirated soon after they appeared and sold throughout Europe. His royal Privilege, in the days before international copyright, availed him little protection. One of his most copied works was the map of Mexico and Florida. Many of these copies were fashioned in the Netherlands and the various German states.... Johann Baptist Homann produced a copy of the famous Delisle map, but abandoned the great French cartographer’s plain, almost sterile style, for a much heavier, lavish, almost over-powering ornamentation characteristic of late Baroque period art. Opulent sea battles, ornate cartouches, and extravagant scenery were employed to fill the blank spaces that disturbed minds less scientific than Delisle’s.

That said, the complex mining scene at upper right is no less than an allegory for what most Europeans hoped to derive from the New World.

     Moreland & Bannister, Antique Maps, p. 77: “In the seventeenth century, Dutch supremacy in map making and publishing overshadowed Germany no less than England and France and there was to be no revival until the foundation in Nuremberg [in 1702] of the printing firm of J.B. Homann [1664-1724], whose business acumen started a resurgence of map publishing. He became a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences and was appointed Geographer to the Emperor in 1715.” For a good overview of the Homann firm, see Markus Heinz, “A Programme for Map Publishing: The Homann Firm in the Eighteenth Century” in Imago Mundi, Vol. 49 (1997), pp. 104-115: “As the most important specialized enterprise in eighteenth-century Germany, the Homann map printing firm affords a good case for an investigation of the factors underlying map production. Commercial success seems to have rested on the production of maps which made a political statement as well as presenting geographical and topographical information.” Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers (revised edition), Vol. II, p. 361.


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

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