Bartholomew de Fonte |
The origins of the De Fonte legend can be traced to a 1706 English publication entitled "Memoirs of the Curious". This short-lived magazine published a previously unpublished account by a Spanish Admiral named Bartholomew de Fonte. De Fonte is said to have sailed up the Pacific coast of North America in 1640. On this voyage he apparently discovered a series of gigantic lakes, seas, and rivers heading eastward from the Pacific towards Hudson Bay. The De Fonte story relates how, on one of these great inland lakes, he met with a westward bound ship from Boston that must to have come through the Northwest Passage. Today, based upon inaccuracies and falsities, we know the entire De Fonte article to have been a fabrication, however, it set 18th century afire with speculation that a Northwest Passage must indeed exist. The De Fonte letter influenced cartography of the Pacific Northwest, particulary the French school of De L'Isle, for nearly 100 years. Click here for a list of maps influenced by Admiral de Fonte voyages.
Rare maps by Bartholomew de Fonte currently for sale.
Rare maps by Bartholomew de Fonte in the Geographicus Antique Map Archive.