Posts Tagged ‘antique map’

Compagnie and Gamaland: Gold and Silver Islands East of Japan

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Jansson's 1658 Map of Japan, Korea, and Compagnie following the discoveries of Vries and Coen.

Jansson’s 1658 Map of Japan, Korea, and Compagnie following the discoveries of Vries and Coen.

Zoom of 1658 Hokkaido (Yeso), Kunashir (Staten Is.) and Iturup (Compagnie).

Zoom of 1658 Hokkaido (Yeso), Kunashir (Staten Is.) and Iturup (Compagnie).

Terre du Compagnie or Compagnies Land is a sometimes vast landmass that appears to the northwest of Japan on countless maps issued between 1658 and the 1790s. The first map to include Compagnies Land is Jansson’s 1658 map Nova et Accurata Japoniae Terrae Esonis ac Insularum adjacentium, which was drawn following the 1643 explorations of Dutchmen Maerten de Vries and Cornelis Jansz Coen.

In 1643 Vries and Coen were sent by the director of the Dutch East India Company (VOC) in Batavia to search for supposed islands of gold and silver to the northeast of Japan. They were not the first expedition to do so. A fruitless Spanish expedition is known to have sailed in 1620. In 1639 the Dutch sent their first expedition, led by none other than Abel Tasman and Mattias Quast. Like the Spanish explorers before them, Tasman and Quast found nothing. The Dutch however were not about to surrender and financed a third expedition, this time under Vries and Coen, was launched in 1643.

Satellite view Kunashir (Staten) and Iturup (Compagnie).

Satellite view Kunashir (Staten) and Iturup (Compagnie).

Legends of gold and silver to the northeast of Japan circulated, primarily in Spanish and Portuguese circles, from at least the mid-16th century. The legends most likely were derived from the exceptional wealth of Japan as encountered by the earliest Portuguese explorers to the region. The historian Kaempfer noted that in some years “two and a half millions of gold” were exported. What shocked the Portuguese was how, despite the vast quantities of gold and silver, there seemed to be very little in terms of attainable new deposits. In fact, as closed economy, Japan’s relatively modest reserves of precious metals had accumulated for centuries. Moreover, Japan has much higher counts of gold than silver, consequently, when the Portuguese arrived they found a surplus of accumulated gold held in somewhat low regard. Without any clear rich gold deposits in Japan proper, legends arose of lands to the unexplored north harboring even greater riches. These took the form of a legend telling of a Portuguese trading ship piloted by one Juan de Gama that had blown off course en route from the Philippines to Mexico. De Gama supposedly discovered by accident a land rich in gold and silver which was subsequently named after him.

Sanson's c. 1691 Map of Compagnie.

Sanson’s c. 1691 Map of Compagnie.

While Vries and Coen did not discover an Asiatic Ophir, they were the first European expedition to make contact with the Aniu and discover the Kuril Islands. These they named Staten Island after the States General back in Holland and Compagnies Land, after the VOC, or Dutch East India Company. The smaller of the two islands, Staten Island or today’s Kunashir, they sailed around and mapped with a fair approximation of accuracy. The larger island, Compagnie or modern day Iturup, they landed on but barely penetrated. For whatever reason they did not fully explore Iturup and subsequent maps left its eastern shores unmapped. Having failed to discover gold or silver, no new expeditions followed Vries /Coen for nearly 100 years. This region thus did not see significant subsequent exploration until the mid to late 18th century voyages of Vitus Bering, James Cook, and the Comte de Laperouse.

P. Buache's 1772 vision separating Gamaland and Compagine.

P. Buache’s 1772 vision separating Gamaland and Compagine.

Where navigators failed, cartographers took up the challenge, in particular the positivist or speculative cartographers rising in France. Armed with political and professional ambition, French speculative cartographers filled in the blanks, at times associating Compagnie with Gammaland and sometimes with the Americas. There were numerous different takes on Compagnie. Phillipe Buache for example, separated Compagnie from Gamaland to make it a vast separate island extending eastward towards the Americas. Sanson, associated Compagine with modern day Hokkaido (Yesso) and extending almost as far east as California. By the end of the 18th century, on the eve of Cook’s seminal explorations, Compagnie/Gama had evolved into Muller’s Peninsula, a kind of speculative proto-Alaska that foreshadowed the discovery of the Aleutian Islands. Only in the wake of Bering and Cook’s voyages did maps finally abandon Compagnie in exchange for a more modern, scientifically mapped, coastline.

1787 Laperouse map sowing little advancement over the 1648 Janson map above.

1787 Laperouse map sowing little advancement over the 1648 Janson map above.

Related Maps:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/JapanKorea-jansson-1690
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/JapanHokkaidoCompagnie-perouse-1787
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/Asia-janvier-1762
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/World-TajimaRyukei-1840
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/World-buache-1808
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NorthernHemisphere-buache-1781
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/World-lattre-1762
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NouvellesDecouvertsArctic-delisle-1730

How Good Cartographers Make Big Mistakes: The River of the West in Bellin’s 1743 Map of North America

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

Bellin’s 1743 Map of North America showing Verendrye’s waterways to the Pacific.

Cartography in the 18th and early 19th century can be understood as a race to reveal the unknown with global political and social consequences. Mapmakers, operating primarily from offices in Amsterdam, London, and Paris, did very little exploration themselves, rather, it was their onerous task to extrapolate from often sketchy reports brought back by mountain men, commercial and naval vessels, gentleman explorers, missionaries, and various other itinerants. These often conflicting and sometimes spurious accounts then had to be reconciled with established cartographic convention, political ideology, and commercial expectations. This short blog post will illustrate one example of how this can easily go wrong – even for master cartographer.

This map was issued by France’s premier cartographer of middle 18th century and one of the most meticulous and conscientious cartographers in the world, Jacques-Nicholas Bellin. The map, Carte de L’Amerique Septentrionale Pour servir a L’Histoire de la Nouvelle France, covers all of North America from the Arctic to the Spanish Main, including modern day Canada, the United States, Mexico, Central America, and the West Indies. Bellin prepared this map to illustrate Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix’s Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France. Charlevoix was a Jesuit missionary and traveler commissioned by the French Crown and the Duke of Orleans to reconnoiter French holdings in the Americas. The French had just lost control of the Hudson Bay and were actively in search of a profitable route to the Pacific, which many believed lay in the network of rivers and lakes to the west of the Great Lakes. Charlevoix thus had the secondary commission to ‘inquire about the Western Sea, but [to] still give the impression of being no more than a traveler or missionary.’ While in the Americas, Charlevoix befriended Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery, a French Canadian military engineer active throughout French America in the early 18th century. Gaspard passed on numerous manuscript reports and maps, most likely including some of the manuscript maps referenced below, to Charlevoix, who in turn passed them on to Bellin, the official Ingénieur de la Marine.

Close up of Bellin’s use of the Auchagah / Verendrye Map.

By far this map’s most striking feature is the broad open water route extending westward from Lake Superior, through the Lake of the Woods (Lac des Bois), and continuing via the River of the West (Fleuve de L’Ouest) through Lake Winnipeg (Ouinipigon) to the mysterious Mountain of Radiant Stones (Montagne de Pierres Brillantes). This remarkable passage is based upon a manuscript, below, drawn by the American Indian Cree river guide Auchagah in 1728 or 1729 for the French Fur trapper Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, Le Sieur de La Verendrye. The connection between the two maps is obvious, especially in the western quadrants where the topography, text, and river networks are drawn direction from Auchagah’s map.

Auchagah Cree Indian Map of the Portages Between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg.

Auchagah Cree Indian Map of the Portages Between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg.

In a manner not atypical of American Indian cartographic perspectives, Auchagah’s map is a practical illustration of river routes he would have been familiar with between Lake Superior and Lake Winnipeg. It identifies various large lakes as well as numerous portages and some topographical features such as the “Montagne de Pierres Brillantes.” What it fails to convey are distance and direction. In the eyes of a western cartographer, used to maps with a uniform directional orientation and scale, this appears to be a pretty good map illustrating a passage west possibly as far as the Pacific. What Auchagah’s map in fact shows is an approach to Lake Winnipeg, here described as Ouinipigon that extends westward from Lake Superior to the Lake of the Woods before turning northwest to Lake Ouinipigon. A synthesis of incompatible cartographies thus caused Winnipeg / Ouinipigon to be mapped twice, both in the Sioux lands to the west of the Lake of the Woods as suggested by the Auchagah map, and, more properly, to the north as Lake Assiniboels. Assiniboels is notably and correctly also connected to the Hudson Bay by the Nelson River (R. de Bourbon).

Lahonton’s Longue Riviere, 1702.

The cartography derived from Auchagah’s map would not have seemed the least unusual to Bellin. In fact, it would have been a confirmation of previously established cartographic conventions based upon c. 1700 voyages of the Baron de Lahonton, see below. Both maps are suggestive of a navigable river system extending westward an unknown distance. Lahonton’s map is akin to Auchagah’s in that it is also based, at least in part, on river maps drawn by indigenous river guides.

Close up of the Pacific Northwest from Bellin’s 1743 map of North America.

Compounding issues relating to widely divergent cartographic perspectives is the complete lack of surveyed reference points. As such, cartographers relied on educated speculation to incorporate sketchy reports by trappers like Verendrye and adventurers like Lahonton into their maps. In our primary example above, most of the North Americas shorelines are somewhat known based upon earlier nautical positioning. Though pre-Cook maritime survey work was at best inexact, it was sufficient to drawn general boarders, as above. Here Bellin references the work of Martin d’Aguilar, a Spanish navigator who sailed up the west coast of America in 1602. He reported sighting a ‘rapid and abundant’ river emptying into the Pacific, which Bellin identifies here. (As a side note, it is generally assumed that Aguilar made it no further than Coos Bay, however, this description sounds uncannily like the Columbia River, much further north. While there are other rivers emptying into the Pacific closer to Coos Bay, none have a dangerous discharge comparable to the Columbia). Other landmarks, such as Cape Mendocino, were well known as landmarks on the Manila – Acapulco trade route.

The vast distances Bellin suggests that Auchagah’s map covers are hence merely speculation, but not random speculation. Although Bellin was considered the most meticulous of cartographers and is known to have written scathingly against the tendency for political influence to trump cartographic fact, he cannot have been immune to the political and mercantile aspirations of his nation. The need for a westward route to the Pacific was profound and a matter of life and death for the French colonies in the Americas. Without such a route the French in America were well aware that they would soon lose their commercial advantage in the region to the British who had just seized control of the Hudson Bay. The cartographer who successfully mapped such a route would be guaranteed everlasting frame and glory – perhaps a risk worth taking.

Links:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NorthAmerica-bellin-1743

MAP OF WEEK: 1821 Manuscript Map of the Pepper Ports of Western Sumatra by a known East India Pilot

Friday, October 5th, 2012

Cartes de principales Rades and Marchés à poivre dans la partie Nord de la Cote Ouest De Sumatra Par Samuel Aschemore.

Cartes de principales Rades and Marchés à poivre dans la partie Nord de la Cote Ouest De Sumatra Par Samuel Aschemore. – The first accurate map of western Sumatra it is original manuscript form?

Drawn by Australian-Irish sea captain Samuel Ashmore, this important and one of a kind 1821 manuscript (hand drawn) nautical chart or maritime map is the first accurate depiction of the pepper ports of northwestern Sumatra, modern day Aceh. The map covers the coast of Sumatra roughly from the pepper port of Analabou (Arongan Lambalek) to Singkil, a region often referred to as the ‘Pepper Coast’. The chart features three inset maps and four inset coastal views. The largest of these, center right, focuses on the area around the island harbor of Touroumang (Troumon), the largest exporter of pepper in the region and Pulo Doua (Dooa Harbour), which Horsburgh considerers ‘the best among the Northern Pepper Ports’. A second inset, in the upper right quadrant, details the dangerous reef-ridden passage between Singkil and Pulo Sago (Banyak Islands). A third inset, in the lower left quadrant, focuses on the pepper rich coast to the east of Cape Felix, including Kohala Batou (Kuala Batu) – a particularly hostile pepper port and site of American military activity in 1831.

This region became exceptionally important with the breakout of the Padri War in 1803. The Padri War, fought between local chieftains of northwestern Sumatra following Adat law and Muslim clerics who, inspired by Wahabism after returning from Hajj, sought to convert the region to Sharia, or traditional Islamic law. Meanwhile, the colonial powers were vying for control of the region, with England based in Singapore and Bencoolen, and The Netherlands out of Batavia and Malacca. Colonial hegemony in Sumatra was nominal at best, being largely confined to the eastern and southern portions of the island. The Padri War further frustrated Dutch attempts to control Sumatra and its important pepper trade. At the same time, the lack of colonial oversight opened the pepper ports of northwestern Sumatra, most of which are noted here, to foreign trade. Merchants from Australia, India, and the United States were thus able to circumvent the Anglo-Dutch monopoly on pepper by trading directly with Sumatran producers. Ashmore, a merchant captain, possibly operating out of Mauritius (later out of Sydney), was among the first to accurately map this important stretch of coast – this being the only known surviving example of his manuscript chart. This map was later integrated into the important large scale nautical charts of this region compiled and published by James Horsburgh , with whom Ashmore was acquainted, in his East India Pilot.

Even with Ashmore’s excellent nautical chart, the pepper trade was dangerous. The Padri War, while hardly disrupting the pepper supply, displaced part of the local population and led to a spike in piracy all along the coast. Moreover, the powerful British and Dutch navies were actively discouraging any trade that disrupted their lucrative pepper monopoly. Nonetheless, Australians out of Sydney and Americans out of Salem swarmed to western Sumatra – some acquired great wealth though others suffered a more grisly fate. Just 10 years after this map was drawn, in 1831, an American pepper merchant ship, the Friendship, was stormed and its crew killed by Muslim villagers living in Kuala Batu (inset no. 3). The American president, Andrew Jackson, sent 300 marines and the frigate Potomac to ‘chastise’ the locals. Nearly 150 Malay pirates/villagers were killed. More recently this coast was devastated by the 2004 tsunami.

Being a one of a kind manuscript there are few references to this chart, however, we did find a cople. An English version of this chart, entitled The Northern Pepper Ports, on the west Coast of Sumatra, by Samuel Ashmore, 1821 was recorded in 1878 in the manuscript archives of the British India Office. This document may still exist in the British Library, but we have not been able to specifically identify it. According to the same archive reference, James Horsburgh republished this chart in 1822, four examples of which are held by the India Office of the British Library.

The fact that the map is in French is exceptionally important and revealing. Initially we assumed the example recorded in the British India Office (British Library IOR/X/3628/50D), was most likely Ashmore’s original final draft. What then of our French example? There are a couple of elements here that are exceptionally striking, first, not only is it in French, but the spellings of the ports, geological features, and even Ashmore’s name, here spelled Aschemore, are transliterated into amalgam of Dutch and French (‘Asche’ being a Dutch name). This is highly unusual and when juxtaposed with a chronology of Ashmore’s life, leads to some speculation. Why would someone merely copying a chart change the spelling of the author’s name to make it seem more ‘Dutch’? Here is what we’ve come up with.

The extremely thorough and extensive British records of Ashmore’s Indian Ocean voyages identify annual, and sometime bi-annual, trade missions nearly every year from 1809 to 1833 – with a notable exception. These records are curiously blank between 1816 and 1822, when this map was made. What we do see is that he seems to have traveled extensively between British colonies in India and Australia and former French colony of Mauritius in the years just before and just after he disappears. Other records show that sometime during this period he became involved with Clara Potterick. Clara’s birth records indicate that she was born in the Dutch colony of Batavia, Clara being a common Dutch name at the time. Family records moreover suggest that Clara was more than half indigenous and by some family accounts a Javanese princess. Like Ashmore, Clara disappears from Batavia only to appear in Mauritius where, in 1830 she bore a son, Alfred Ambrose Ashmore. The Ashmore family subsequently moved from Mauritius to Sydney in 1831, where he and Clara married and lived out the remainder of their days.

Thus a fascinating story begins to emerge. Ashmore began voyaging on the Indian Ocean in 1809 as the merchant captain of the brig Hibernia. From 1809 to 1816 Ashmore captained the Hibernia on various trade voyages between India, Tasmania, and Sydney, with an 1814 stop at the Dutch port of Batavia, where he spent some time and even attempted to sell the Hibernia. It must have been on this voyage that he met and fell in love with Clara Potterick, possibly attempting to sell the Hibernia and reimagining himself as ‘Aschemore’ in an attempt to settle in the Dutch port. If, as Ashmore family histories suggest, Potterick was in fact a Dutch-Javanese princess, this may have been problematic. Having failed to sell the Hibernia in Batavia, Ashmore left Batavia in May of 1814. Clara most likely accompanied him. This was Ashmore’s last voyage as captain of the Hibernia. Subsequently he traveled as Captain of the Udney (Udny), which generally sailed between Mauritius and Indian ports. His last recorded voyage before he briefly disappears occurred in 1816 on the brig Guide, captained by John Higgins, with Ashmore is listed as the owner. Why then did he disappear? Our guess is that Ashmore, having abducted his princess decided to lay low for a while in the most remote British colony possible, Mauritius. It is important to keep mind that, while nominally British, Mauritius remained culturally linguistically French and was economically dominated by a French- Mauritian elite.

Around this time the Padri War broke out in western Sumatra, creating a unique trade opportunity for the opportunistic captain. This part of Sumatra was well known for the production of pepper – so much so that, as mentioned earlier, it was known as the Pepper Coast. Traditionally the pepper market was tightly controlled by British in Bencoolen (further south on Sumatra’s western coast) and the Dutch out of Batavia. The Padri War disrupted the established supply lines and opened various ports along the Pepper Coast to international trade with prices far below the monopolistic offerings in Bencoolen and Batavia. Since Ashmore made this map in 1821, we know that he was making unrecorded voyages to the Pepper Coast, probably in his new brig, the Guide. Being based in Mauritius and most likely sailing with a French-speaking Mauritian crew, it would be surprising if any maps that Ashmore drafted during this period were not in French. His interesting name change, to Aschemore, is unlikely to be a transcription era due to the fact that it is extremely unusual and moreover, such an error seems out of place in an otherwise highly detailed and meticulously produced chart. Most likely Ashmore himself instigated the name change not to disguise his identity, he was well known in the East Indies, but rather to disassociate himself with the British colonial hegemony in Mauritius and Batavia. Ashmore was certainly not the only captain to take advantage of the war to smuggle pepper, as mentioned already, entrepreneurs from Salem, Massachusetts, Sydney, and India were extremely active along the Pepper Coast throughout this period. Ashmore, nevertheless, was most likely the only one to produce such a beautiful chart.

In light of Ashmore’s history and association with Mauritius, it is our belief that this map is Ashmore’s original final draft. The English language manuscript variant identified in the archives of the British India Office was most like a copy produced for the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles, who Ashmore must have met at Bencoolen. Writing in January of 1822 from Bencoolen, a British colony on the west coast of Sumatra, Raffles references this important chart in his letters to the Duchess of Somerset, stating almost in postscript, ‘Look after the chart of the pepper ports by Captain Ashmore, and interest Horsburgh : he will know the value of them.’ The variant on this chart mentioned by Raffles, is most likely a copy of the map offered here, prepared in English by Ashmore or an assistant for Stamford Raffles in January of February of 1821. This example, as Raffles hoped, found its way into the hands of Horsburgh who added it to his collections at the British India Office, and published a variant, in 1822.

We thus conclude that this is Ashmore’s original plan of the Pepper Ports of Western Sumatra, which was later copied for Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1821, the same year the original was produced and passed on to Hydrographer James Horsburgh by Charlotte Seymour, the Duchess of Somerset. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for the serious collector of maps pertaining to Sumatra, the East Indies, Horsburgh, or Stamford Raffles.

Links:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/WestSumatraPepperPorts-ashmore-1821

References:


A catalogue of manuscript and printed reports, field books, memoirs, maps , etc., of The Indian Surveys, deposited in the Map Room of the India Office, p. 581.
Horsburgh, J. and Taylor, A. D., The India Directory, for the guidance of commanders of steamers and sailing vessels, Section V., pp. 603 – 609.
Moor, J. H., Notices of the Indian Archipelago and adjacent countries: being a collection of papers relating to Borneo, Celebes, Bali, Java, Sumatra, Nias: the Philippine Islands, Sulus, Siam, Cochin China, Malayan peninsula, etc, (1837) p. 109.
Travers, Thomas Otho, Journal, 1813 – 1820, (Banfield, 1960) P. 118.
Raffles, Sophia (Lady), Memoir of the Live and Public Services of Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles vol 2, p. 210.
British Library, India Office, IOR/X/3628/50D (inaccessible, page 581), IOR: X/3634/2/35 (page 588), IOR: X/3635/136/1 (the only coloured copy in our collections, page 593), IOR: X/3635/136/2 page 593.
British Library, Map Library, Map 147.e.18 (161) 2.

Did this 1715 Map Influence the First Appearance of the Name “Oregon”?

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

1715 Lonhontan Map of the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi

Did this 1715 Map attached to the French edition of Lahonton's travels influence the first use of the name "Oregon"?

While researching Lahontan’s Carte Generale de Canada (above) we discovered an obscure 1944 article by George R. Stewart of the University of California that, if he is correct, lends additional significance to this already important map by shedding more light on the mysterious origins of the name “Oregon”.

The debate over the term “Oregon” has been ongoing for over a century. Most scholarship ascribes its first known use to a 1765 manuscript petition by Major Robert Rogers to the King of England’s Privy Council requesting financing for an expedition to discover a river based “Northwest Passage” from the Great Lakes to the Pacific. Variants later appear in Jonathan Carver’s 1778 Travel’s Through the Interior Parts of North America. Carver was an associate of Rogers from whom he no doubt derived the term. Modern scholars have delved deeper into the term associating it with various American Indian languages. The most recent scholarship on this subject by anthropologist Ives Goddard and linguist Thomas Love (Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 105, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), pp. 238-259) traces the etymological root of “Oregon” to Abenaki term “wauregan” meaning “good” or “beautiful”. The Abenaki (and later the French in the form of Le Page’s Map), with whom Rogers was intimate, used this term to refer to the Ohio River – a westward flowing waterway that empties into the Mississippi. The most interesting remaining question seems to be, ‘How did this term become associated with a river that emptied into the Pacific?’

The first step in deciphering this process is understanding Robert Rogers – a complicated fellow to say the least. Though not rich in formal education Rogers was a skilled frontiersman and bold commander, qualities that earned him ephemeral fame following his extraordinary exploits leading “Rogers Rangers” during the French and Indian War. In contrast to his skills as a military commander, Rogers was frequently at odds with authority, once accused of treason, and invariably deep in debt. He was a charismatic charmer and, when it suited him, a clever conman.

Rogers interest in the Northwest Passage seems to have been inspired by Arthur Dobbs, an Anglo-Irish politician and from 1754 to 1765 the colonial governor of North Carolina. Dobbs was famously obsessed with notions of the Northwest Passage and personally sponsored several failed expeditions of discovery. He acted as a kind of clearing house for any and all information regarding the Northwest Passage. In the way of intelligent men with a mission, Dobbs cobbled together an assortment of data to correspond to his preconceived vision for the largely unexplored TransMississippi.

The scholar Malcolm H. Clark, in his article “Oregon” Revisited correctly, to our mind, identifies the sources for Roger’s description of the “River Ourigan” in well-worn legends of the previous decades. Rogers describes (note Rogers is a notoriously poor speller)

.. this great River Ourigan . . . discharges itself into an Arm or Bay of the Sea at near the Latitude of fiftyfour and [which] bends Southerdly anid entys the Pacifick Ocean about forty eight, nine or fifty, where it narrows, but to the Northwest .. . at the Entrence of the River Ourigan the Bay is wide, and supposed to have a communication with the Hudsons Bay, above the latitude of Dobsie’s point …

1760 De L'Isle Speculative Map of the North America, the Arctic, and Siberia (Sea of the West)

Some early ideas about the American Pacific Northwest are illustrated here, including the Sea of the West and the Passage of DeFonte.

Clark soundly argues that this is an amalgam of legends related to the mythical explorer Bartholomew de Fonte and the French fur trader Nicholas Jeremie. De Fonte supposedly discovered a great inlet somewhere along the American northwest coast that led inland via a series of navigable lakes, channels, and rivers, to an outlet in the Hudson Bay – this is Rogers’ “Arm or Bay of the Sea at near the Latitude of fiftyfour and [which] bends Southerdly anid entys the Pacifick Ocean”. De Fonte’s legend was widely accepted until the very end of the 18th century, counting Benjamin Franklin and other intellectual greats among its adherents. Nicholas Jeremie, who was based out of Fort Bourbon, wrote in his c. 1720 “Relation de la Bale de Hudson” of river that supposedly extended from Lake Winnipeg to another stream that flowed westward – this would be Rogers’ “River Ourigan”. Jeremie admitted to have gleaned this information third-hand from American Indian contacts. Soundly connecting the matter to Dobbs, who was likely the first to put this altogether, Rogers identifies the eastern end of his passage as “Dobsies Point”.

Rogers’ later descriptions of the Oruigan River (which he actually offers several different spellings for) generally follow the river systems delineated in Antoine-Simone Le Page du Pratz’ map which illustrate the possibly mythical travels of the Yazoo Indian Monchcht-ape, who supposedly traveled northwest of the Mississippi on a river referred to by the local Indians as the “Beautiful River” – echoing the term given to the Ohio River by the Abenaki – ‘Wauregan’.

This alone may have been sufficient to convince Rogers to name his great river of the west the Oruigan. However, returning to Lahontan’s map, above, and to Stewart’s short article, there may have been another element in play. The “Carte Generale de Canada” published along with Lahontan’s narrative covers the Great Lakes basin between the Mississippi River and the Pacific, extending northwards to the Hudson Bay and southwards as far as the Missouri River.

The Ouariconsint is here divided into two lines "Ouaricon" and "sint".

The Ouariconsint is here divided into two lines "Ouaricon" and "sint".

This map features a westward flowing river called the “R. de Ouariconsint”. No doubt this is the Wisconsin River, and although represented inaccurately by modern standards, it does in fact follow the period convention for the portrayal of this system. The publisher, seemingly for want of space, has here broken the Ouariconsint into two words, “Ouaricon” and, following on the second line “sint”. The Longue River, Lahontan’s mythical route to the west, appears just north of this river. Could a misreading of this map’s westward flowing river, with an easy-to-misread name curiously close to Rogers’ Ourigan, have influenced his adoption of the term? Though Lahontan’s map does not show the Ohio River, the Wauregan of the Abenaki, it does show the Ouariconsint. Rogers was doubtless familiar with the Ohio, La Page’s Belle Rivere, and with the Abenaki name for it, thus he may well have associated the Carte Generale de Canada’s Ouaricon / Ouariconsint, due to a similarity in pronunciation, with the Ohio, and thus with the Belle Rivere of Le Page. The term was later adopted by H. S. Tanner, no doubt without being aware of its complex history, to describe the Oregon Territory.

It is noteworthy that this particular way of labeling the “Ouariconsint”, that is divided onto two lines, appeared in the second French edition of Lahontan’s narrative, 1703, and was reproduced in most subsequent French editions to 1715. The choice to break the word into two lines was no doubt a space saving measure taken to accommodate the smaller format 1703 French edition. The English editions of Lahontan’s work were engraved by Hermon Moll and do not feature the divided name.

While simple answers are always the easiest, we tend to believe that history is more often than not the result of a happy conjunction of unrelated factors that propel and idea forward. Elliot, Clark, Stewart, Byram, Lewis, Goddard, Love, and others are just some of the scholars who have tackled this puzzle, each making significant contributions to the corpus. The name ‘Oregon’ may not have derived from a single source, as most suggest, but rather been influenced by numerous similar sounding words, from different languages, that managed to converge, consciously or unconsciously, in Rogers’ (or Dobbs) questing mind.

RELATED MAPS:

http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/CarteGeneraledeCanada-lahontan-1715
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NouvellesDecouvertsArctic-delisle-1730

REFERENCES:

Bracher, F., ‘”Ouaricon” and Oregon’, American Speech, Vol. 21, No. 3 (Oct., 1946), pp. 185-187.

Clark, Malcolm, ‘”Oregon” Revisited’, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 61, No. 2 (Jun., 1960), pp. 211-219.

Elliott, T. C., “The Strange Case of Jonathan Carver and the Name Oregon”, The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. 21, No. 4 (Dec., 1920), pp. 341-368

Elliot, T. C., “The Origin of the Name Oregon”, The Quarterly of the Oregon Historical Society, Vol. 22, No. 2 (Jun., 1921), pp. 91-115.

Ives, Goddard and Love, Thomas, ‘Oregon, the Beautiful’, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 105, No. 2 (Summer, 2004), pp. 238-259.

Snow, V. F., “From Ouragan to Oregon”, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 60, No. 4 (Dec., 1959), pp. 439-447.

Stewart, G. R., “The Source of the Name ‘Oregon’”, American Speech, Vol. 19, No. 2 (Apr., 1944), pp. 115-117.

Taube, Edward, “Turn Again: The Name Oregon and Linguistics” Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 79, No. 2 (Summer, 1978), p. 211.

Walker, James V., “Henry S. Tanner and Cartographic Expression of American Expansionism in the 1820s”, Oregon Historical Quarterly, Vol. 111, No. 4 (2010), p. 416-443.

Widder, K. R., “The 1767 Maps of Robert Rogers and Jonathan Carver: A Proposal for the Establishment of the Colony of Michilimackinac”, Michigan Historical Review, Vol. 30, No. 2, Mapping in Michigan and the Great Lakes Region [Part 1] (Fall, 2004), pp. 35-75

MAP OF THE WEEK: 1838 Arrowsmith’s Map of the World on a Globular Projection

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Arrowsmith's Map of the World on a Globular Projection, Exhibiting particularly the Nautical Researches of Captain James Cook, with all the recent Discoveries to the present Time, The Whole Engraved under the immediate Superintendence of, corrected and improved , by Samuel Lewis, Geographer.

Arrowsmith's Map of the World on a Globular Projection, Exhibiting particularly the Nautical Researches of Captain James Cook, with all the recent Discoveries to the present Time, The Whole Engraved under the immediate Superintendence of, corrected and improved , by Samuel Lewis, Geographer.

A late unrecorded state of Arrowsmith’s double hemisphere map of the world on a globular projection. Dating to 1838 and published well after the death of both Aaron Arrowsmith and Samuel Lewis, this is without a doubt the last iteration of this seminal map. The present example follows the re-engraving of Arrowsmith’s globular projection by Philadelphia publisher Samuel Lewis for sale to American audiences. The Lewis re-engraving, which was issued in partnership with Aaron Arrowsmith and T. L. Plowman, appeared in 1809 and is itself extremely scarce, with only two examples being known. This variant, published 19 years later, is even rarer and is the only known example.

Arrowsmith’s original map of 1794 was one of the great cartographic achievements of his age. The map was designed to illustrate the important discoveries and navigations of Captain James Cook. All subsequent variants on Arrowsmith’s map follow his basic globular model and include both an illustration of the Great Navigator and markings showing the tracks of his three voyages of discovery. In 1808, when Lewis re-engraved Arrowsmith’s map for the American market, he included some updated information and a fully re-engraved cartouche work. Lewis changed the title from Map of the World on a Globular Projection to Arrowsmith’s Map of the World, no doubt hoping to capitalize on the Arrowsmith’s well-deserved reputation as a talented and meticulous cartographer. He also removed the dedication to Alexander Dalrymple, the British Hydrographer, in favor of various decorative elements. Cook’s portrait however remained, though relegated to the lower cartouche area.

Cartographically, the Lewis American edition of this map, published by T. L. Plowman of Philadelphia, is with only a few minor exceptions almost identical to the 1808 Arrowsmith English edition. Lewis offered his version of Arrowsmith’s map by subscription and, in so far as we can tell, it must not have been very popular as the map never reached a broad audience – thus accounting for its extreme rarity. Unlike the British edition, the American edition seems to have been issued only in wall map format as we have identified no dissected examples.

The present example, issued in 1838, reflects significant updates and additions throughout, though follows Arrowsmith’s basic globular model and Lewis’s alternations. The inscription, bottom center, suggests that the map features “corrections, additions, and improvements by an experienced geographer”, though who this might have been is unfathomable. These updates are most notable in the Americas.

This map was issued shortly following the 1836 Treaty of Velasco that ended the Texan Revolution and brought about the ephemeral independent Republic of Texas. Throughout the Republic period the western and northern borders of Texas were a matter of dispute, with Texas claiming ownership of much of modern day New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado, while Mexico insisted that the boundary be limited to the Neuces River – slightly east of today’s Rio Grande border. The cartographer’s choice of the Neuces River border suggests that his sympathies did not lie with the Republic of Texas. This dispute would eventually lead to the Mexican-American war and the cession of Upper California to the United States.

Further north the cartographer sets the United States – British America border at 54°40′ north latitude. This constitutes a strong stance in favor of American claims to the region. The Oregon Boundary Dispute, as it came to be known, evolved from conflicting commercial interests in the region – mainly associated with fur trade. The British claims assert that Oregon / Columbia was a holding of the Hudson Bay Company and argued for possession of all lands as far south as the Columbia River. Americans, influenced by the popular theme of manifest destiny, asserted claims to the region relating partially to residual treaties with Russia and Spain, but more significantly to the commercial interests of tycoons like John Jacob Astor, whose Astoria trading post is noted here simply as ‘Village’.

Additional modifications and adjustments are evident throughout and include updates to both the interior and southern border of Australia – here identified as New Holland. Africa features considerable updates that might better be called regressions. Following the theories of Mungo Parke, the apocryphal Mountains of Kong, which stretch laterally across the continent, here join with the hypothetical Mountains of the Moon – a sharp contrast to the more technically correct mapping provided by Lewis in 1809. In our edition Lake Malawi, however, though still retaining in an embryonic state, is vastly elongated and more suggestive of its true form. The remainder of the continent, following the original Arrowsmith model, remains ‘Unexplored’. South America reflects the effects of its many wars of liberation under Simon Bolivar and others. New Granada, Venezuela, and other early South American states are beginning to emerge from the fog of war.

All an all, this is an important, rare, and strange map. Though we know the influences behind it – Arrowsmith and Lewis – the 1838 publisher remains unknown. With no published references and no records appearing in the catalogues of any institutional or known private collections, this quite possible the only remaining example of this, the final iteration Arron Arrowsmith’s seminal globular map of the word.

More here:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/World-arrowsmithlewis-1838

Please also see Rumsey example:
http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~200312~3000191:Arrowsmith-s-Map-of-the-World-On-A-

One of a Kind Chromolithograph View of New York City

Monday, December 5th, 2011

View of Manhattan

1897 Colton Chromolithograph Map View of New York City: Manhattan Brooklyn Queens

A rare possibly unique find, this is G. W. and C. B. Colton’s magnificent 1897 panoramic birds-eye view of New York City. Presented in chromolithograph color this map reveals Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens as seen from high above Jersey City and Hoboken, which themselves appear in the lower left quadrant. The area covered runs from the Bronx to the Statue of Liberty and from Hoboken to Brooklyn and Governor’s Island.

The map is presented as if looking west from high above Hoboken and Jersey City – an unusual take on the city which deviates considerably from the more common south-north Manhattan views by Currier and Ives, and others. This might be explained by the development of Upper Manhattan, most notably the Upper West Side and Central Park, late in second half of the 19th century. The artist would have wanted to represent these newly affluent areas so that his view would appeal to the widest possible audience.

Several bridges are noted including the Brooklyn Bridge (completed in 1883), the Williamsburg Bridge (opened in 1903 but under construction as this view was being drawn), the Queensboro Bridge (proposed but, as this map was being drawn, as not as yet under construction), and a curious bridge that never materialized crossing the Hudson to Hoboken at 59th Street. Central Park is clearly visible, as are the Statue of Liberty in the lower right quadrant, St. John the Divine in the upper left, and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park in the upper right. New York’s signature grid system is clearly represented as are many individual buildings, many of which still stand today. The rivers, and harbor are teaming with life as countless ships of all shapes and sizes visit the many wharves on both size of the River. Smoke escapes many chimneys throughout, though especially in lower Manhattan and Jersey City, giving evidence to New York’s late 19th century industry.

This piece is exceedingly rare and we have been able to identify no record of it in any publication or major collection. It is not referenced by Stokes, it does not appear in the OCLC, has no auction records, and there are no examples in the catalogues of the Library of Congress, the New York Public Library, or the New York Historical Society. Since the Colton firm would have produced this map in the final days of operation, in fact it is the latest Colton publication we have come across, it is reasonable to speculate that this view may never reached the production stage and is merely a prototype. Such would account for its uncommon rarity – indeed, this may well be the only example in existence.

Links:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/NewYorkCityView-colton-1897

Speculative Polar Cartography – Then and Now

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

Co-published with http://www.realclimate.org.

The curious mismapping of Greenland’s ice sheet cover by the venerable Times Atlas recently has excited a lot of outraged commentary. But few people noted that this follows an old tradition of speculative cartography of the polar regions. ‘Modern’ mapmakers as early as the 16th century combined real facts and scientific knowledge with fundamental misinterpretations of that knowledge to create speculative mapping of the world’s unknown shores – and nowhere was this more prevalent than at the poles.

Mercator's 1606 Map of the North Pole

Mercator's 1606 Map of the North Pole


Early cartographers had a particularly difficult time mapping the Polar Regions. Factually, they based their maps on reports from mariners who dared sail the dangerous waters. This was supplemented by information from earlier maps, speculations based upon their personal theories of geography, religious beliefs, and the fiscal and political ambitions of their patrons.

The earliest specific map of the North Pole is Gerard Mercator’s 1595 Septentrionalium Terrarum Descriptio (‘Northern Lands Described’, shown here is the 1606 edition). Mercator interprets a lost work known as the Inventio Fortunata (“The Fortunate Discovery”), which, though we don’t know for certain, supposedly refers to early journeys to Iceland and the Faeroes in the 14th century. Complementing and interpreting the Inventio, Mercator added real geographic knowledge collected by explorers Martin Frobisher (1535-1594) and John Davis (1550-1605) (amongst others). Mercator used the Inventio description of lands and peoples, Frobisher and Davis’s reports on currents, ice extent, and other elements, to compose this masterpiece of cartographic speculation.

At the North Pole Mercator placed a great mountain, the Rupes Nigra (“Black Rock”) around which flows a mighty whirlpool (hence the strong currents recorded by Davis and Frobisher). From here four powerful rivers flow inward dividing a supposed Arctic continent into four distinct lands. Mercator referenced the Inventio to populate these lands with pygmies, Amazons, and other anomalies. Between Asia and America Mercator added another great sea mountain to which he ascribes magnetic properties. This mountain evolved from a pet theory devised by Mercator to explain magnetic variation. It is also noteworthy that the seas all around the poles are open and navigable – it is very likely Mercator had in mind the interests of royal patrons eager for a Northwest or Northeast Passage.

Buache's 1763 Map of the Antarctic

Buache's 1763 Map of the Antarctic


Two hundred and fifty years later, in 1763, the French geographer Phillipe Buache (1700-1773), issued another wonderful attempt to address the problematic Polar Regions. Buache drew this map to expound upon his own theory of water basins wherein he hypothesized that the Antarctic contained two distinct land masses separated by a frozen sea. From the frequency of icebergs seen by early explorers such as Halley and Bouvet, Buache presumed that there must be a semi-frozen sea at the South Pole. This sea, which he argued (correctly) could only be fed by mountains in the surrounding polar lands, disgorged ice into the southern seas. He thus maps “Land yet undiscovered” and “Frozen Sea as Supposed”, “Supposed Chain of Mountains” as well as other speculations. In order to conform not only to his own theories but to accepted mappings of this region by venerable cartographers of the 16th and 17th centuries such as Kaerius and Orteilus, Buache also joins New Zealand to the Antarctic mainland and adds an expansive reservoir he names “Siberia”. Buache was highly influential in his time and aspects of his geographical speculation found their way into numerous maps of the period.

Maps such as these abound in early cartography and most, no matter how misguided, are genuine attempts to rectify the known and unknown. Some, like the maps above and the more contemporary Times Atlas’ map of Greenland, are derived from real scientific knowledge, but exhibit either a misunderstanding of geography or an erroneous hypothesis. These often lead to fictitious interpretations of factual data. Such errors do have ramifications. In the early days of polar exploration such maps often inspired to ill-fated nautical expeditions in search of pygmies, polar seas, and new lands. In modern times, such speculative mappings, both early and contemporary, have been used by some to disprove global warming, advocate for the continent of Atlantis, and prove that space aliens mapped the earth in antiquity.

It should therefore probably be always borne in mind that cartography has always been a blend of art and science – which of course is one of the reasons why it so fascinates us.

Map of the Week: 1893 Cane Map of the Columbian Exposition – the world’s first cane map.

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

The world's first cane map - a rare novelty from the 1893 Columbian Exposition showing Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show.

An extremely rare and unusual cane and map prepared in 1893 for the Chicago World’s Fair or, as it is better known, the 1893 Columbian Exposition. This is the earliest known example of a cane map. The genre was invented by the Columbian Novelty Company and, as the map itself notes, the patent was still pending when issued for the fair in 1893. All subsequent cane maps, most of which date to the first half of the 20th century, follow on model of this cane as patented by the Columbian Novelty Company.

The map extends from an internal spring loaded roller mechanism in the top of the cane. It is printed and hand colored on both sides. The primary side shows the grounds of the Columbian Exposition, now Jackson Park and the Field Museum, naming all important buildings walks, pavilions, markets, etc. Among the specific sites noted are “Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show & Congress of Rough Riders”, the Chicago University Grounds, and the various pavilions established for manufacturing, mining, transportation, liberal arts, agriculture, machinery, etc. In the upper left quadrant there is a aerial view of the entire fair. A larger inset along the right hand side of the map focuses on the Midway from Stony Island to Cottage Grove.

The 1893 Columbian Exposition or Chicago World’s Fair was a pivotal moment in the history of the United States. Chicago won the right to host the World’s Fair over New York, Washington D.C., and St. Louis. During its six month run, nearly 27,000,000 people, roughly half the population of the United States at the time, attended the fair. Its numerous displays and exhibits established conventions for architecture, design, and decorative arts, in addition to initiating a new era of American industrial optimism.

The layout and design of the fair, as seen here, is the work of Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, the genius behind New York City’s Central Park and Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, among others. Most of the fair was designed in the Beaux Arts tradition, a popular movement in Paris that was quickly gaining global momentum. In the years following the fair, this influential architectural style redefined the cityscape of Chicago, Boston, New York, and many other prominent American cities.

Printed by August Gast of St. Louis for the Columbian Novelty Company of Chicago. Originally sold in the gift shops of the 1893 Columbian Exposition.

Links:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/ChicagoWorldsFair-columbiannovelty-1893

The 1606 Mercator / Hondius Map of the American Southeast

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Virginiae Item et Floridae

The most influential map of the American southeast to emerge in the 17th century.

Published in 1606 by the Mercator – Hondius firm, this is the most influential map of the southeastern part of North America to emerge in the 17th century and the first map to depict by Virginia and Florida. Entitled, “Virginiae Item et Floridae”, Hondius’ map covers from the Spanish colony of St. Augustine northwards, past the Outer Banks of the Carolinas, as far north as the entrada to the Chesapeake Bay. Cartographically Hondius’ map is a synthesis of the two landmark North American maps of the previous century, the 1591 Jacques Le Moyne map of Florida and the 1590 John White map of Virginia and Carolina, both of which were published by Theodore de Bry. The influence of this map, augmented by the gravity of the Mercator name, would dominate the cartographic perspective of the American southeast well into the 18th century, propagating in the process a number of errors that would appear on maps well into the 1700s.

Despite referencing both sources, Hondius’ map is a unique production, with a number of elements that would influence the cartographic perspective of this region well into the 18th century. The most notable of these deal with the lakes and rivers found in the southwestern quadrant of the map. This region was tenuously mapped by the French during their disastrous attempt to settle the Forida from 1552 to 1565, when they were finally driven out by the Spaniards of St. Augustine. Le Moyne was part of this expedition and, though the French settlers likely did very little actual mapping of the interior, good terms with the indigenous Floridians did enable them to produce an impressive and very accurate early map of the southeast. The Le Moyne – De Bry map, as it is known, identifies several major lakes in the interior of Florida, all of which are noted here, however, where Le Moyne was surprisingly accurate, Hondius’ interpretation is surprisingly erroneous.

The most significant deviation from Le Moyne’s map is Hondius’ placement of the River May and Lake Apalachy, here identified as the “Lacus Aquae Dulcis” (Sweet Water Lake). Where Le Moyne correctly mapped the River May (St. John’s River, Florida) in an inverted “V” form, first heading north, then south to meet with a large inland lake (in all likely hood Lake George or one of the other great inland lakes of Florida), Hondius maps the course of the May heading to the northwest, thus relocating the “Lacus Aquae Dulcis” far to the north. This error can be understood in terms of magnetic variation, temperature issues associated with isothermal lines, and navigational errors related to the confusion of the star Asfick with Polaris. While Le Moyne correctly located the mouth of the River May at 30 degrees of latitude, Hondius maps it between 31 and 32 degrees. This led to a misassociation of the River May with the Savannah River. Thus, while the River May dips southward, the Savannah River heads almost directly NW into the Appellation Mountains, forming the modern southern border of South Carolina. Hondius, no doubt taking his cue from navigators who rarely trekked inland, therefore rerouted the May River to flow from the northwest. Without an accurate picture if the interior, Hondius followed Le Moyne’s example and translocated the great freshwater lake to the north. Others have speculated that the Le Moyne’s River May is in fact the St. John’s River, and that the “Lacus Aquae Dulcis” is in fact the Okefenokee Swamp – however, this argument is against established convention. The influence of the Mercator-Hondius firm was so pronounced in Europe that most subsequent cartographers followed their lead. Lactus Aquae Dulces appeared in maps by Jansson, Laet, Janszoon, Blaeu, Allard, Ogilby, Speed, Homann and others well into the 18th century, becoming one of Hondius’ most tenacious legacies.

Another curious and striking element drawn directly from the Le Moyne map is another lake fed by an enormous waterfall. To our knowledge, there are but two maps that depict this lake, this being the second. Some believe this unusual lake may have been based on native legends of Niagara Falls. A note near the lake and falls reads that the natives of this land find grains of silver in this lake. The sources for this lake are, unfortunately, as unclear in this map as they were in Le Moyne’s, and will most likely remain a mystery. The third mysterious lake, Sarrope, appearing the southwestern quadrant, is most likely a mismapping of Lake Okeechobee, as Le Moyne places it much further to the south in roughly the correct position.

Like the Le Moyne map, this map is also one of the earliest maps to depict and name the Appellation Mountains, here identified as Apalatcy Montes. A note suggests that the Apalatcy, a term presumably derived from a once populous American Indian nation inhabiting the Pensacola region, are rich in gold and silver.

To the east and north of Port Royal, the former site of the failed 1552 French colony, Hondius draws most of his cartography from John White’s map of 1590. This map, which is the first to accurately detail the Grand Banks, was drawn by White following Sir Walter Raleigh’s mysterious and ill-fated attempt to colonize Roanoke Island in 1585. Hondius’ takes far fewer liberties with White’s work, following closely on the cartography of the older map, though he has included a few Spanish names including C. S. Romano Hispanis, Medano, and Hispanis. These names most are most likely derived from early Spanish forays up the North American coast from St. Augustine, though few of these expeditions yielded discoveries of any note.

Another noteworthy error is the jutting distorted horizontal projection of Virginia-Carolina, which erroneously places Carolina and the Outer Banks too far to the east. This error follows on earlier maps and relates to difficulties 16th century mariners experienced in calculating longitude and accounting for magnetic variance. It was not until the invention of the marine chronometer in 1714 that longitude cold be accurately measured at sea. Nonetheless, one can image the misrepresentation being problematic for earlier sailors short on supplies after a lengthy trans-Atlantic crossing. Fortunately, most ships navigating to this region would have stopped first in the West Indies then followed the coast northward rather than make directly for the colonies along the Grand Banks. This approach no doubt influenced the longevity of this cartographic error.

This map is further profusely illustrated with various decorative illustrative elements drawn from various early accounts of American Indians. These include a Floridian King and Queen, sailing ships, sea monsters, and an American Indian fishing canoe taken from De Bry. To the right and left of the title cartouche, upper left quadrant, are views of American Indian villages, illustrating the construction differences between Florida and Virginia villages.

This map remained the most important map of the North American southeast for nearly 70 years, until superseded by the 1672 publication of Ogilby-Moxon’s “Description of Carolina.” It was published in numerous editions in various languages, but there is only one state as the map remained unaltered in all subsequent publications. From the verso text, we can identify this example as being drawn from the 1628 French edition of Gerard Mercator and Jodocus Hondius’ Atlas. Mercator died in 1594 and though the maps and atlas bear his name, most of the individual maps were edited and updated by Hondius prior to the 1606 Atlas’s publication.

Links:
http://www.geographicus.com/P/AntiqueMap/VirginiaeItemetFloridae-mercator-1606

References:
Cumming, W., The Southeast in Early Maps, no. 26 and plate no. 2.
Boston Public Library, Leventhal Collection, G3870 1633 .H66.
Williams & Johnson #3.
Burden, P., The Mapping of North America, #151.
Koeman, C., Atlantes Neerlandici. Bibliography of Terrestrial, Maritime and Celestial Atlases and Pilot Books, Published in the Netherlands up to 1880, vol. 2, p. 282 no. 141.
Van der Krogt, P., Koeman’s Atlantes Neerlandici, 9400:1A.
Goss, J., The Mapping of North America: Three Centuries of Map-Making 1500-1860, no. 23.
Lowery, W., The Lowery Collection, 100.

Map of the Week: Satsuma Daimyo

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

Satsuma Daimyo

A previously unknown manuscript map of Tokugawa era trade routes between Japan, Taiwan, and China.

This extraordinary discovery is a previously unknown 1781 (Temmei 1 ) manuscript map of Taiwan and the Satsuma Daimyo. This rare map covers from the southern shores of Kyushu south along the Ryukyu Islands (including Okinawa) to Taiwan and the coastline of mainland China. The powerful Satsuma Daimyo, which flourished and enjoyed special privileges under the Tokugawa Shoguns, controlled much of the territory shown here. What is most remarkable about this piece is that knowledge of this region would have been very rare and restricted information during under the Tokugawa era Kaikin system of national isolation. Despite the isolationist policy, limited trade and information exchange did exist. One of the unique privileges associated with Satsuma control of the Ryukyu Islands was greater independence and freedom of foreign trade than most of Edo period daimyo were permitted. Consequently Satsuma trading vessels regularly traveled to Taiwan and mainland China thus acting as one of isolationist Japan’s few links to the outside world. This chart can be best understood in this context – as a rare glimpse of Satsuma’s nautical trade routes between Kyushu, Taiwan, and mainland China. Later in the Meiji period, the wealth, power, and international sophistication of the Satsuma Daimyo would have a significant influence on the Meiji Ishin or Meiji Restoration. A once in a lifetime find.