A significant though often overlooked piece, this is J. B. Homann's c. 1716 map of New England, New York, and New Jersey. Though titled 'Nova Anglia,' (New England) Homann's map actually covers a much broader area from New France (Canada) to the Delaware Bay, and from Philadelphia to Nova Scotia, inclusive of all of New England, New York, and New Jersey, as well as parts of adjacent Canada and Pennsylvania. The map identifies both European and American Indian settlements, differentiating between the two by rendering indigenous settlements as pictorial villages, huts and all, and European towns as small circles, major cities like Philadelphia and Boston being the exception.
The beautifully engraved decorative cartouche in the lower right quadrant depicts an elegantly-dressed European merchant trading manufactured goods with a Native American in return for beaver pelts. This might well be a microcosmic view of the entire political and economic status of this region in the early 18th century. European settlement was sparse, largely confined to coastlines and a few inland entrepôts
like Albany, shown here at the northern terminus of the Hudson River. The fur trade was the dominant force driving both settlement and trade throughout 17th and 18th century New England. Although Homann identifies some areas as Nieuw Nederland
and Novum Belgium
, referencing the 17th century Dutch attempts to colonize the Hudson Valley, the more aggressive English colonists had long since attained regional dominance. This is perhaps also suggestive of Homann's Dutch sources, most likely Visscher's 1689 map, Nova Tabula Geographica Complectens Borealiorem Americae Partem
Most Europeans were content to follow the example of the gentleman in our cartouche by letting the more skilled American Indians trap beavers and other fur-bearing animals, then acquiring them through trade along the coastline at various inland depots. As the cartouche work suggests, guns and metal tools were the primary currency despite being specifically forbidden by the crown - for obvious reasons. Consequently, little was known of the interior aside from vague offered up by secretive Indians and a few early probes mostly associated with river systems. The Hudson River had not been explored beyond Albany. Although, the French explorer Samuel de Champlain had mapped Lake Champlain in 1609, challenges in determining Longitude caused him to place the lake well east of its actual location. Fur traders had also heard of the lake from the American Indians with whom they did business. To them, it was the ultimate source, a sort of Beaver Shangri La, however, they knew it by another name, Lake Iroquois - after the tribal confederation that dominated the area. Here Lake Champlain is properly labeled and, Lake Iroquois, just to the south, is now doubt Lake George.
Homann also incorporates numerous depth soundings along the entire cost line and notes various shoals and banks, particularly around Nantucket and Cape Cod, which is rendered as an island. His incorporation of this data is no doubt associated with New England's other major industry - the Cod fishery. The banks off Cape Cod were exceptionally rich in Cod, which, when salted and dried, provided sustainable tack for most nautical voyages will into the 19th century.
Additional elements of interest abound. Homann places a large lake, the Zuyd Lac, on the Delaware River. This is simply a misinterpretation of the natural widening of the Delaware at the Delaware Water Gap. In Pennsylvania, a vast swampland is an exaggeration of natural wetlands in modern day Bucks County, today known as the Quakertown Swamp, a protected area popular with birders. Sennecaas Lacus
, just west of the Hudson, is most likely a mismapping of Lake Erie.
Norumbega - the New Englan El Dorado
The fictitious region of Norumbeag
is placed in present-day Maine at the head of Penebrock Bay, another reference to the explorations of Samuel de Champlain who associated the Penobscot with the 'Great River of Norumbega.' Norumbega
, as it is more commonly spelled, was believed to be a riverside settlement of fair skinned people, possibly the descendants of Vikings, first described by Jean Allefonsce in 1542,
The river is more than 40 leagues wide at its entrance and retains its width some thirty or forty leagues. It is full of Islands, which stretch some ten or twelve leagues into the sea. ... Fifteen leagues within this river there is a town called Norombega, with clever inhabitants, who trade in furs of all sorts; the town folk are dressed in furs, wearing sable. ... The people use many words which sound like Latin. They worship the sun. They are tall and handsome in form. The land of Norombega lies high and is well situated.
Norombega appeared on maps from as early as the late 1500s.
Publication History and Census
The first appearance of this map was in Homann's c. 1716 Atlas Novus
. It was subsequently reissued for several decades with only slight changes. The present example reflects the second state, with Manhattan in clear insular form, labeled as 'N. Loch.'
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 1724, 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.
Homann, J. B., Atlas Novus, (Amsterdam) 1716.
Very good condition. Original centerfold. The finest example of this map we have ever encountered.