This highly-detailed map of the Western Hemisphere was one of the most popular maps of the 18th century. It provides a great deal of information about the state of geographic knowledge in the New World in the early part of the century. The Pacific Northwest is left blank, reflecting its status in the first half of the 18th century as one of the last great undiscovered coastal frontiers.
Nice detail in California and the Southwest. For California, the west coast is taken north to Cap Mendocin and Cap Blanc, with the notation, “Entrée decouverte par Martin d’Aguilar.” This refers to the supposed discovery of a large west coast river opening by Martín de Aguilar (fl. 1603), a Spanish explorer whose log contains an important written description of the area.
Aguilar was the commander of the ship Tres Reyes in an expedition led by Sebastián Vizcaíno. Vizcaíno set out from Mexico in 1602 in search of usable harbors and the mythical city of Quivira. While exploring along the northern California coast, a storm separated Vizcaíno and Aguilar’s ships. While Vizcaíno may have reached the present Oregon-California border, Aguilar continued up the coast. Aguilar is thought to have sighted and named Cape Blanco, and he may have sailed as far as Coos Bay.
Aguilar reported sighting a “rapid and abundant” river, although he did not enter it because of the current. An outbreak of scurvy then forced him to turn back to Mexico; he and most of his crew died before they could reach Alcapulco.
The course of the Mississippi is pushed considerably west of its true location, but the Missouri River is shown in a remarkably accurate fashion, with headwaters in the Northern Rocky Mountains. The French territory of Louisiane takes up the lion’s share of North America at the expense of the British colonies. This political bias is due to Delisle’s position as geographer to the King of France. South America is much better represented with good depiction of the river systems and locations of the Jesuit missions.
The map is rich with Indian and other early American details. Decorative cartouche, compass rose and extensive notes throughout the map.