Finely-engraved small map of the Western Hemisphere featuring a prominent Island of California and three elaborate cartouches.

L’Amerique, Meridionale et Septentrionale Dressee selon les Dernieres Relations et Suivant les Nouvelles Decouvertes…

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SKU: NL-00724 Category: Tag:
Cartographer(s): Nicholas de Fer
Date: 1700
Place: Paris
Dimensions: 22.7 x 33.5 cm (9 x 13.3 in)
Condition Rating: VG
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This map of the Western Hemisphere by famed cartographer Nicolas de Fer is characterized by a mix of new discoveries and cartographic myths. A large Island of California with an indented coast stretches north from the Tropic of Cancer. To its north is a note that mentions access to a northern straight, a reference to the ever-wished-for Northwest Passage, but the Pacific Northwest is left largely blank.

The North American interior is dotted with spurious lakes, including a large Carolina lake, and a curious take on the drainage system of the Mississippi River. The Rio Grande is mapped with fair accuracy. The colony of Jamestown is plotted.

The map also depicts a partial coastline of New Zealand, based upon the discoveries of Abel Tasman, with the rest cleverly hidden under a cartouche.

This is the first state of the map, with publisher “Chez l’Autheur.”


Nicholas de Fer

Nicolas De Fer (1646–1720) was a French cartographer and geographer who also worked as an engraver and publisher. He was renowned for his massive output and his pleasant visual designs. He was the son of a Parisian cartographer and began apprenticing at an early age. By twelve, however, he shifted his apprenticeship to the closely associated field of engraving – a move his father no doubt encouraged, as it might enhance his competitive position on the market with his son as a trained engraver.

De Fer’s father died in 1673, but Nicolas did not take over the company until 1687, at which point it had been virtually run into the ground. Nevertheless, Nicolas had a knack for business and soon turned things around. By 1690, he was so successful that he won employment as the official geographer to Louis, Le Grand Dauphin of France, and son of the reigning French king, Louis XIV. Soon after, with support from the Spanish and French courts, De Fer was appointed the official geographer for King Louis XIV. In 1720, shortly before his death, he was even appointed royal geographer to Philip V, king of Spain.

De Fer’s popularity in the Bourbon royal circles was primarily due to his appreciation of the propagandistic effects of strategic cartography. But no doubt his keen sense of aesthetics helped as well. Whatever the case, his maps were hugely popular, well-funded, and widely distributed. He was impressively productive, publishing over 600 sheets from his atelier and covering everything from town plans to world maps. Many of his maps rode the political conjunctures of the age. Hardly would a territory have been won or surrendered before De Fer’s atelier was working on a map delineating the new realities.

Condition Description

Remnants of a few pieces of archival tape to backside; tears at top left corner and vertical fold expertly repaired, washed with a few areas of loss at margins, still very nice, with clear impression; very good.


Leighly 105; McLaughlin 135; Tooley 61; Wagner NW Coast 482.