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De Wit's superb western hemisphere with carte-à-figures and Island of California

Place/Date: Amsterdam / ca. 1666
Title: Nova Totius Americæ Descriptio
43.4 x 53.9 cm (17 x 21.5 in)
Hand color
Condition Rating
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Uncommon, separately published, and quite attractive map of North and South America, with California as an island and a border comprised of engravings of cities at the top and a series of representations of native figures at the sides.

Burden describes it thus: “Frederick de Wit’s first map of America was not intended for any specific atlas, although it is sometimes found in the Zee-Atlas of Hendrick Doncker. Together with its desirability as an example of a carte et figures, it is relatively uncommon… The map is a blend from many different sources, which gives overall an appealing look. The decorative borders are taken from van den Keere, 1614, although fewer towns are illustrated.

De Wit draws upon the Luke Foxe model for his depiction of California as an island. To its north-east the engraver mistakenly depicts the north shore of the peninsula as a river. No reference is made to Drake’s visit on the west coast, and no western outlet is found from Hudson Bay… Nieu Amsterdam is identified but there is no reference to the English presence in New England. De Wit demonstrates a clear preference for Dutch sources, the more accurate recent French representations in some regions not being utilised…”

This is the second state of the map, with the 1660 date erased from the title. The word “L’Amérique” has been boldly inked in top margin.


Condition Description

Some minor soiling, map verso darkened, a few short marginal tears; we think the manuscript notation "L'Amerique" at the top, done at some point in the past, is pretty cool.


Burden 356; Leighly 40; McLaughlin 24; Wagner 385b.

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