1784 Janvier Puzzle Map of America w/Sea of the West

L'Amerique divisée en ses principaux états, assujetie aux observations astronomiques par le Sr. Janvier Geographe. A Paris. - Main View

1784 Janvier Puzzle Map of America w/Sea of the West


The Americas crafted into a unique puzzle!


L'Amerique divisée en ses principaux états, assujetie aux observations astronomiques par le Sr. Janvier Geographe. A Paris.
  1784 (dated)     19.25 x 26.25 in (48.895 x 66.675 cm)     1 : 28500000


This is Jean Janvier's 1760 rare, separately issued map of the western hemisphere, in its 1784 Paris edition. This map has, at an early date, been pasted down and hand-cut to form a simple jigsaw puzzle. Although the map does not name the new country, the colored national borders reflect the formation of the United States, which had been set according to the Treaty of Paris the year before this map was printed. The substance of the map is somewhat changed - dotted colonial borders have been burnished out and replaced with new ones, but the bulk of the engraving remains true to the 1760 edition.
Sea of the West
The map exhibits a boldly-rendered Sea of the West filling the American northern Pacific coast, dominating the largely unexplored Pacific Northwest. This massive and utterly fraudulent body of water generally referred to as the Sea of the West appears on many maps, overwhelmingly French, of the second part of the 18th century. The earliest was probably Jean-Baptiste Nolin’s 1742 L’Amerique ou le Nouveau Continent. Nolin appears to have copied the relevant cartography from an unpublished manuscript globe by the great mapmaker, Guillaume De l’Isle (1675 - 1726). The notion did not truly take hold until its vigorous support, starting in 1752, in the maps of Philippe Buache (1700 - 1773) and Joseph Nicolas De l'Isle (1688 - 1768), who generally presented the monumental bay in conjunction with a viable Northwest Passage. Although De l’Isle and Buache were immediately accused of fraud with regard to this geographical feature, the Sea of the West appeared on many maps – some editions even post-dating Cook. Janvier gives the Mer de l'Ouest its fullest expression, although he does not explicitly connect it to either the network of lakes and rivers extending westward from the Hudson Bay or to the similar network extending westward from Lake Superior.
Discoveries of the Coureurs des Bois
These river and lake networks were being actively explored throughout the early 18th century by a number of little-known but important French explorers. Most specifically, the explorations of the La Vérendrye brothers and other coureurs des bois, with regard to the discovery of the Lake of the Woods (L. Des Bois) and Lake Winnipeg (L. Ouinipigon), both of which appear on this map. Nonetheless, despite the activity of French explorers and fur traders, the entire continent northwards of the Mississippi River watershed and the St. Lawrence River is not territorially assigned. This little-explored region was then subject to questionable colonial jurisdiction. The French claimed all of modern-day Canada while at the same time this region was in its entirety part of the Hudson Bay Company's royal charter. Legally, this would become much clearer in the year after this map was first issued. In 1863, following the Seven Years War (1756 - 1763), France ceded nearly all of its North American territory to England. Nonetheless, this poorly policed and vast land remained hotly contested on the practical level as traders fur traders, backwoodsmen, and coureurs des bois flooded the wilderness in search of its most treasured commodity, beaver pelts.
The Apocryphal Admiral de Fonte
Further north we can find traces of Admiral de Fonte's apocryphal discovery of a passage from the Pacific (starting at the Archipel St. Lazare) eastward via a network of lakes and rivers to Baffin Bay. The De Fonte legend first appeared in a 1706 English publication entitled Memoirs of the Curious. This short-lived magazine published a previously unknown account by a supposed Spanish Admiral, 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 have come through the Northwest Passage, a kind of holy grail of American exploration. Today, based upon inaccuracies and falsities, we know the entire De Fonte article to have been a fabrication. Nonetheless, it set 18th century Europe afire with speculation that a Northwest Passage must indeed exist. Even such luminaries as Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790) wrote long defenses of De Fonte. Our map offers an uncommon variant on the De Fonte passage, positioning its western entrada well to the north in order to accommodate the Sea of the West and situating its outlet at the Baffin rather than the Hudson Bay.
The Great Lakes
With respect to the mapping of the Great Lakes, current events had far outpaced the publishers of the map. For one, Canada was no longer French but had passed to the British in 1763. The printed, dotted border - which placed the Great Lakes firmly within French territory - remains as a sort of cartographic appendix: the 1784 border between the United States and British Canada is instead delineated in hand color.
Pacific Geography
There have been a few substantive changes since the publication of the 1760 printing of this map, primarily to do with the exploration of the Pacific. To the 1769 edition were added half-a-dozen Pacific islands north of the Equator, as well as the Solomon Islands and Guadalcanal at the western extreme of the map just south of the Equator. To the 1769 were also added partial coastlines of islands just west of Tierra del Fuego: a Terre de Drake and an Is. de Drake. Off the coast of Patagonia, the I. St. Martin has been renamed I. de la Mere de Dieu. Several islands, supposedly seen by the explorer Fernández de Quirós (1563 - 1614) in 1605, were removed from the plate for the 1769 edition. This 1784 edition is further altered still, with the Solomon islands re-engraved, and several of Philip Carteret's (1733 - 1796) discoveries added (Pitcairn Island and Osnabrug Island). Carteret is alas nowhere mentioned, but the map claims to be amended to include an astonishing reference to a 1782 'Voyage du Cook', no doubt a singular achievement by that famous navigator who, by that time, had been dead for three years. (It may have become apparent to publishers that the mere mention of Cook on a map would serve to sell it.)
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved in 1760 by Tardieu and was released separately, sometimes appearing in Tardieu's Atlas Geographique, which was generally a composite work including maps of many authors. The map appears to be rare in all its editions. We see examples of the 1760 edition in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France and the Universitatsbibliothek Heidelberg. There is one example of the 1769 edition of which we are aware, in the collection of David Rumsey. We see no examples of this 1784 in any institutional collection, although the Venetian map publishers Remondini and Santini produced a copy of their own that same year. An issue of this map dated 1790 has come to market. The puzzle aspect of the map is unique, and likely represents a one-off made for educational purposes.


Jean Denis Janvier (fl. 1746 - 1776), sometime also known as 'Robert', was a Paris based cartographer active in the mid to late 18th century. Janvier signed his maps Signor Janvier. By the late 18th century, Janvier was awarded the title of 'Geographe Avec Privilege du Roi' and this designation appears on many of his later maps. Janvier worked with many of the most prominent French, English and Italian map publishers of his day, including Longchamps, Faden, Lattre, Bonne, Santini, Zannoni, Delamarche, and Desnos. More by this mapmaker...

Jean Lattré (170x - 178x) was a Paris based bookseller, engraver, globe maker, calligrapher, and map publisher active in the mid to late 18th century. Lattré published a large corpus of maps, globes, and atlases in conjunction with a number of other important French cartographic figures, including Janvier, Zannoni, Bonne and Delamarche. He is also known to have worked with other European cartographers such as William Faden of London and the Italian cartographer Santini. Map piracy and copyright violations were common in 18th century France. Paris court records indicate that Lattré brought charges against several other period map publishers, including fellow Frenchman Desnos and the Italian map engraver Zannoni, both of whom he accused of copying his work. Lattré likes trained his wife Madame Lattré (né Vérard), as an engraver, as a late 18th century trade card promotes the world of 'Lattré et son Epouse.' Lattré's offices and bookshop were located at 20 rue St. Jaques, Paris, France. Later in life he relocated to Bordeaux. Learn More...

Pierre François Tardieu (1711 - 1771) was a French engraver and mapmaker active in Paris during the middle part of the 18th century and a member of the large and prolific Tardieu family. Several members of the family established themselves as engravers, and, for over 200 years, the family produced works. Pierre Francois Tardieu was born around 1711 in Paris, son of Jean Tardieu. His uncle, Nicolas-Henry Tardieu, taught him the art of engraving. Pierre was a general engraver whose work was not limited to maps but also included historical and genre works. Many of his maps are extremely significant and include some of the finest French productions of the period. Tardieu had his office at Rue de al Corderie, Paris. Tardieu was married to Marie-Anne Rousselet (1733-1826), whose family included the engraver Gilles Rousselet and the sculptor Jean Rousselet. It is highly likely that Pierre Francois Tardieu was succeeded by Pierre Antoine Francois Tardieu (1757 - 1822), who is also possibly his son, as the latter continued to engrave under the P. F. Tardieu imprint well after the former's death. Learn More...


Good. Copperplate engraving with original hand color on laid paper, pasted down to wood and hand-cut to make a puzzle. Some narrow extremities of few pieces missing. Areas of scuffing and few spots.


Rumsey 11335.012 (1769). OCLC 727082025 (BNF, 1760).