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1783 De L'Isle Map of the United States, Mexico, and the West Indies


Price: $2,700.00


Title:    Carte du Mexique et des Etats unis d'Amerique, Partie Meridionale.

Description:    This is the 1783 Dezauche issue of Phillipe Buache and Guillaume D L'Isle's important map of North America and the West Indies. The map covers the United States, Mexico, New Mexico, Central America and the West Indies or Antilles. De L'Isle first issued this map in 1703. At the time it was by far the most sophisticated map of the region yet produced, an achievement that the map historian Carl Wheat considers 'a towering landmark along the path of Western cartographic development'. This was the first map to accurately denote the course of the Mississippi River, accurately map the Great Lakes, and included numerous modifications from the explorations of La Salle, Bienville, and D'Iberville.

At the close of the American Revolutionary War, in 1783, Dezauche, De L'Isle's successor, redrew the classic 1703 map to include the newly formed United States and the 1763 Spanish occupation of Louisiana, as well as important updates relating to new explorations in Florida, the Appellation Mountains, the Mississippi Valley, and the greater southwest.

The map illustrates the political state of the continent following the 1783 Treaty of Paris, which formally ended the American Revolutionary War. The fledgling United States are configured roughly in accordance with the original British colonial charters, however, have their western boundaries set at the Mississippi River. Pennsylvania extends westward to include parts of New France that were ceded to the United States following the war. New York's borders follow roughly the borders of today – except in De L'Isle's map it includes New Jersey. To the south and west of the United States, Spain dominates, France having ceded control of Louisiana to Spain in 1763. even so we can see the political future of the continent taking shape. An outline of the region that would soon become Texas is clearly visible and distinct from neighboring Nouveau Mexique.

In New Mexico itself the missions along the Rio Del Norte, including Taos and Santa Fe are noted. Beyond the narrow valley attached to the Rio de Norte, however, the region is only tenuously mapped. The mythical Kingdoms of Gold, Quivara and Teguayo are noted just under the title cartouche. The empire of Gran Teguayo appears in the unmapped region to the northwest of Santa Fe. Teguayo was identified as one of the Kingdoms of Gold presumed to be found in the unexplored American west. The name Teguayo first appears in the Benevides Memorial, where it is described as a kingdom of great wealth to rival Quivara, another mythical kingdom just north of Taos. The idea was later popularized in europe by the nefarious Spaniard and deposed governor of New Mexico, the Count of Penalosa, who imagining himself a later day Pizzaro, promoted the Teguayo legend to the royalty of europe. Originally Teguayo was said to lie west of the Mississippi and north of the Gulf of Mexico, but for some reason, De L'Isle situates it further to the west.

This map was published in J. Dezauche's 1789 reissue of G. De L'Isle and P. Buache's Atlas Geographique et Universel. It is both the last edition of this important map, coming some 80 years after its original publication, and the first and only edition to include the United States.


Date:    1783 (dated)

Source:    Delisle, G., and Buache, P., Atlas Geographique et Universel, (Dezauche, Paris), 1789.

References:    Cumming, W., The Southeast in Early Maps, 137. Martin, J. C., and Martin, R. S., Maps of Texas and the Southwest, 1513-1900, p. 92-3. Tooley, R. V., The Mapping of America, p. 22, #53. Map Collectors Circle, vol 33, no. 53.

Cartographer:    The De L'Isle family (fl. c. 1700 - c. 1760) (also written Delisle) were, in composite, a mapmaking tour de force who redefined early 18th century European cartography. Claude De L'Isle (1644 -1720), the family patriarch, was Paris based a historian and geographer under Nicholas Sanson. De L'Isle and his sons were proponents of the school of "positive geography" and were definitive figures, defining the heights of the Golden Age of French Cartography. Of his twelve sons, four, Guillaume (1675- 1726), Simon Claude (1675 - 1726), Joseph Nicholas (1688 - 1768) and Louis (1720 - 1745), made a significant contributions to cartography. Without a doubt Guillaume was the most remarkable member of the family. It is said that Guillaume's skill as a cartographer was so prodigious that he drew his first map at just nine years of age. He was tutored by J. D. Cassini in astronomy, science, mathematics and cartography. By applying these diverse disciplines to the vast stores of information provided by 18th century navigators, Guillaume created the technique that came to be known as "scientific cartography", essentially an extension of Sanson's "positive geography". This revolutionary approach transformed the field of cartography and created a more accurate picture of the world. Among Guillaume's many firsts are the first naming of Texas, the first correct map of the Mississippi, the final rejection of the insular California fallacy, and the first identification of the correct longitudes of America. Stylistically De L'Isle also initiated important changes to the medium, eschewing the flamboyant Dutch style of the previous century in favor of a highly detailed yet still decorative approach that yielded map both beautiful and informative. Guillaume was elected to the French Academie Royale des Sciences at 27. Later, in 1718, he was also appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi", an office created especially for him. De L'Isle personally financed the publication of most of his maps, hoping to make heavy royalties on their sales. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in 1728, leaving considerable debt and an impoverished child and widow. De L'Isle's publishing firm was taken over by his assistant, Phillipe Buache who became, posthumously, his son in law. The other De L'Isle brothers, Joseph Nicholas and Louis De L'Isle, were employed in the Service of Peter the Great of Russia as astronomers and surveyors. They are responsible for cataloguing and compiling the data obtained from Russian expeditions in the Pacific and along the northwest coast of America, including the seminal explorations of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov. The De L'Isles, like their rivals the Vaugondys , must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Click here for a list of maps by the De L'Isle (Delisle) family.

Cartographer:    Phillipe Buache (1700 - 1773) was a late 18th century French cartographer and map publisher. Buache began his cartographic career as the workshop assistant and apprentice to the important and prolific cartographer Guillaume de L'Isle. Upon De L'Isle's untimely death, Buache took over the publishing firm cementing the relationship by marrying De L'Isle's daughter. Over the years, Bauche republished many of De L'Isle's maps and charts. Buache was eventually appointed Premier Geographe du Roi, a position created-for and previously held by Guillaume de L'Isle. Buache is most respected for his introduction of hachuring as a method from displaying underwater elevation on a two dimensional map surface. Buache compiled maps based upon geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Buache, like his primary rival Robert de Vaugondy, must be considered a speculative geographer or 'positive geographer'. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Buache's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Didier Robert De Vaugondy, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. Buache was succeeded by his nephew Jean-Nicholas Buache de Neuville. Click here for a list of rare maps from Phillipe Buache.

Cartographer:    Jean-Claude Dezauche (fl. c. 1780 - 1838) was a French map publisher active in Paris during the first half of the 19th century. Dezauche's business model focused on editing and republishing the earlier maps of Phillipe Buache and Guillaume de L'Isle, which he acquired from Buache's heir, Jean Nicholas Buache, in 1780. Like Bauche and Dezauche held a position with the Depot de la Marine and his name many of their maps. Jean-Claude Dezuache eventually passed his business to his son, Jean André Dezauche. Click here for a list of maps by Jean-Claude Dezauche.

Size:   Printed area measures 19.5 in height x 26 inches in width (49.53 x 66.04 centimeters)

Condition:    Very good. Original centerfold. Small discoloration near panama. Original pressmark visible. Blank on verso.

Code:   CarteduMexiqueEtatsUnis-delisle-1783 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)

© Geographicus Rare Antique Maps, Kevin Brown, 20/9/2014



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