1743 Homann Heirs Map of West Africa or Guinea
Description: One of the most beautifully produced maps of west Africa to appear in the 17th century. Based on earlier Homann maps and research by Anville, this map covers the northwestern part of Africa from Cape Blanc and Senegal to Guinea Inferior, around the Bite of Africa, to the Congo and Barbela Rivers. As with most maps of Africa from this period, the coastlands are highly detailed while the interior is either blank or extremely speculative. The coastal lands between the Niger River and Biafra are particularly well mapped with copious Latin notations regarding the peoples and places depicted. The inland course of the Niger River itself, a matter that was being actively debated in Europe at the time, is mostly speculative beyond a certain point. Our map actually shows two Niger Rivers, an eastern and western Niger, which are proximal to one another but do not in fact meet up. There are several unnamed mountain ranges in the interior which are possibly an embryonic representation of the Mountains of Kong - a presumed source of the Niger that was popularized in the late 18th and early 19th century. This map also names numerous African kingdoms and tribal groups, including Biafra, Benin, Bambara, Pongo, Bituin, etc.
One of the most outstanding aspects of this map is the spectacular decorative cartouche in the lower left quadrant. Ostensibly the cartouche depicts a typical African village. Shows several huts as well as indigenous Africans engaged in various "tribal" activities. Each element of the cartouche is labeled with a letter and referenced in a table below the map. On a deeper level the cartouche is designed to highlight the lucrative ivory trade. Cherubic African children are depicted playing with monstrous Elephant tusks which are also shown stacked in the background. In a moment of artistic inspiration, the creator of this cartouche also uses the large ivory tusks in the foreground to show his distance scales.
This map was drawn by Matthias Haas based on the cartographic work of J. B. de Anville. It was published in Nuremburg, Germany by the Homann Heirs.
Date: 1743 (dated)
References: Library of Congress, Map Division, g8735 ct000313. Mickwitz, A., The A.E. Nordenskiold Collection in the Helsinki University Library: Annotated Catalogue of Maps Mapde up to 1800, Vol 1, 91. Shirley, R.W. (British Library, Atlases), T.HOM-6a, #25.
Cartographer: Johann Baptist Homann (March 20, 1664 - July 1, 1724) was the most prominent and prolific map publisher of the 18th century. Homann was born in Oberkammlach, a small town near Kammlach, Bavaria, Germany. As a young man Homann studied in a Jesuit school and nursed ambitions of becoming a Dominican priest before converting to Protestantism in 1687. Following his conversion, Homann moved to Nuremberg and found employment as a notary. Around 1693 Homan briefly relocated to Vienna, where he lived and studied printing and copper plate engraving until 1695. Afterwards he returned to Nuremberg where, in 1702, he founded the commercial publishing firm that would bear his name. In the next five years Homann produced hundreds of maps and developed a distinctive style characterized by heavy detailed engraving, elaborate allegorical cartouche work, and vivid hand color. The Homann firm, due to the lower cost of printing in Germany, was able to undercut the dominant French and Dutch publishing houses while matching the diversity and quality of their output. By 1715 Homann's rising star caught the attention of the Holy Roman Emperor Charles the VI, who appointed him Imperial Cartographer. In the same year he was also appointed a member of the Royal Academy of Sciences in Berlin. Homann's prestigious title came with a number of important advantages including access to the most up to date cartographic information as well as the "Privilege". The Privilege was a type of early copyright offered to a few individuals by the Holy Roman Emperor. Though not as sophisticated as modern copyright legislation, the Privilege did offer a kind of limited protection for several years. Most all J. B. Homann maps printed between 1715 and 1730 bear the inscription "Cum Priviligio" or some variation. Following Homann's death in 1726, the management of the firm passed to his son Johann Christoph Homann (1703 - 1730). J. C. Homann, perhaps realizing that he would not long survive his father, stipulated in his will that the company would be inherited by his two head managers, Johann Georg Ebersberger and Johann Michael Franz, and that it would publish only under the name Homann Heirs. This designation, in various forms (Homannsche Heirs, Heritiers de Homann, Lat Homannianos Herod, Homannschen Erben, etc..) appears on maps from about 1731 onwards. The firm continued to publish maps in ever diminishing quantities until the death of its last owner, Christoph Franz Fembo in 1848. Click here for a list of rare maps from Johann Baptist Homann.
Cartographer: Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1697-1782) was perhaps the most important and prolific cartographer of the 18th century. D'Anville's passion for cartography manifested during his school years when he amused himself by composing maps for Latin texts. There is a preserved manuscript dating to 1712, Graecia Vetus, which may be his earliest surviving map - he was only 15 when he drew it. He would retain an interest in the cartography of antiquity throughout his long career and published numerous atlases to focusing on the ancient world. At twenty-two D'Anville, sponsored by the Duke of Orleans, was appointed Geographer to the King of France. As both a cartographer and a geographer, he instituted a reform in the general practice of cartography. Unlike most period cartographers, D'Anville did not rely exclusively on earlier maps to inform his work, rather he based his maps on intense study and research. His maps were thus the most accurate and comprehensive of his period - truly the first modern maps. Thomas Basset and Philip Porter write: "It was because of D'Anville's resolve to depict only those features which could be proven to be true that his maps are often said to represent a scientific reformation in cartography." (The Journal of African History, Vol. 32, No. 3 (1991), pp. 367-413). In 1754, when D'Anville turned 57 and had reached the height of his career, he was elected to the Academie des Inscriptions. Later, at 76, following the death of Philippe Buache, D'Anville was appointed to both of the coveted positions Buache held: Premier Geographe du Roi, and Adjoint-Geographer of the Academie des Sciences. During his long career D'Anville published some 211 maps as well as 78 treatises on geography. D'Anville's vast reference library, consisting of over 9000 volumes, was acquired by the French government in 1779 and became the basis of the Depot Geographique - though D'Anville retained physical possession his death in 1782. Remarkably almost all of D'Anville's maps were produced by his own hand. His published maps, most of which were engraved by Guillaume de la Haye, are known to be near exact reproductions of D'Anville' manuscripts. The borders as well as the decorative cartouche work present on many of his maps were produced by his brother Hubert-Francois Bourguignon Gravelot. The work of D'Anville thus marked a transitional point in the history of cartography and opened the way to the maps of English cartographers Cary, Thomson and Pinkerton in the early 19th century. Click here for a list of rare maps by Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville.
Cartographer: Johann Matthias (Matyhias) Haas (Hasio, Haase) (Latinized as Johannes Hasius) (January 14, 1684— September 24, 1742) was a German mathematician, astronomer, and cartographer. Haas was born in Augsburg but is known to have held academic positions in Nuremburg, Leipzig and Wittenberg, where he was a professor of mathematics. He produced several maps for the Homann Heirs firm in addition to several publications of his own. Today is memorialized by a crater on the Moon - Hase Crater. Click here for a list of rare maps from Johann Matthias (Matyhias) Haas.
Size: Printed area measures 22.5 x 20 inches (57.15 x 50.8 centimeters)
Condition: Very good condition. Original centerfold. Minor transferrence. Blank on verso.
Code: AfricaPropria-homannheirs-1743 (to order by phone call: 646-384-4040)