1692 Sanson / Jaillot Map of North America (California as an Island)

Amerique septentrionale divisee en ses principales parties, ou sont distingues les vns des autres les estats suivant qu'ils appartiennent presentemet aux Francois, Castillans, Anglois, Suedois, Danois, Hollandois, tiree des relations de toutes ces nations par le S. Sanson, geographe ordinaire du roy. 1692.

1692 Sanson / Jaillot Map of North America (California as an Island)


Monumental North America maps with incomplete Great Lake and Califorina as an Island.

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Amerique septentrionale divisee en ses principales parties, ou sont distingues les vns des autres les estats suivant qu'ils appartiennent presentemet aux Francois, Castillans, Anglois, Suedois, Danois, Hollandois, tiree des relations de toutes ces nations par le S. Sanson, geographe ordinaire du roy. 1692.
  1692 (dated)    23 x 35 in (58.42 x 88.9 cm)     1 : 16000000


An impressive and scarce 1692 map of North America issued by Alexis-Hubert Jaillot on a massive scale. The map covers all of North America and Central America from Baffin Bay to the Spanish Main. The map extends westward to past an Insular California to include Terre de Iesso (a speculative mapping of Hokkaido) and eastwards past the Azores to include the British Isles.

Jaillot derived this expanded format map from the earlier work of Nicholas Sanson, a figure who revolutionized French cartography. We can trace the fundamental design of this map to two Sanson maps. First, his 1666 map of North America - on which most of the basic cartography is based. Second, Sanson's 1657 map of California, from which both maps derive their model of Insular California - itself derived from maps associated with the English explorer Luke Foxe's expedition in search of the Northwest Passage. Thus the form of California seen here follows the Second Sanson model or, more properly, the Luke Foxe model. It was Foxe who is credited with introducing the curious form of northern Insular California, including the Bay of Talago, the Rio de Estiete, and the unusual peninsula extending from the mainland, Agubela de Gato. The origin of this cartography beyond Foxe remains a mystery. Adopted by Sanson in 1657, this form became standard convention for the representation of Insular California until the early 18th century.

The idea of an insular California first appeared as a work of fiction in Garci Rodriguez de Montalvo's c. 1510 romance Las Sergas de Esplandian, where he writes
Know, that on the right hand of the Indies there is an island called California very close to the side of the Terrestrial Paradise; and it is peopled by black women, without any man among them, for they live in the manner of Amazons.
Baja California was subsequently discovered in 1533 by Fortun Ximenez, who had been sent to the area by Hernan Cortez. When Cortez himself traveled to Baja, he must have had Montalvo's novel in mind, for he immediately claimed the 'Island of California' for the Spanish King. By the late 16th and early 17th century ample evidence had been amassed, through explorations of the region by Francisco de Ulloa, Hernando de Alarcon and others, that California was in fact a peninsula. However, by this time other factors were in play. Francis Drake had sailed north and claimed 'New Albion' (identified here on the northwest coast of California Island) near modern day Washington or Vancouver for England. The Spanish thus needed to promote Cortez's claim on the 'Island of California' to preempt English claims on the western coast of North America. The significant influence of the Spanish crown on European cartographers caused a major resurgence of the Insular California theory. Just before this map was made Eusebio Kino, a Jesuit missionary, traveled overland from Mexico to California, proving conclusively the peninsularity of California.

In addition to its remarkable presentation of California, this map also offers a very ephemeral perspective on the Great Lakes. While all five lakes are present, Lake Superior and Lake Michigan (Lac des Puans) are open at their westernmost extremes, thus illustrating the primitive sate of exploration in the region as well as the high hopes of European monarchs that one of these lakes may provide a passage to the Pacific and the lucrative markets of Asia. Like Huron is identified according to its original Huron-Petun (Wyandot) name, Karegnondi (tr. 'Big Lake').

The Mississippi River, here identified a Chucagua, a term derived from the journals of the De Soto expedition, is relocated well to the East - a major advancement over previous maps. Jaillot's reasoning behind this relocation is unclear but may have been influenced by reconnaissance associated with the recently returned expedition of Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet.

In Spanish Florida, which extends north to include most of the American Southeast, Lake Apalache or the 'Great Freshwater Lake of the American Southeast' is noted. This lake, first mapped by De Bry and Le Moyne in the mid-16th century, is a mis-mapping of Florida's Lake George. While De Bry correctly mapped the lake as part of the River May or St. John's River, subsequent navigators and cartographers in Europe erroneously associated it with the Savannah River, which instead of Flowing south from the Atlantic (Like the May), flowed almost directly from the Northwest. Lake Apalache was subsequently relocated somewhere in Carolina or Georgia, where Jaillot maps it and where it would remain for several hundred years.

This map has an interesting publishing history. The relationship between the Sanson's in Amsterdam and the Jailllot firm in Paris was often rocky. There are four separate publications of this map, each with a different but very similar plate – these were the Jaillot issue, the Berry Issue (which bears his imprint), the Hoffman issue (also with the publisher's imprint), and inferior anonymous Italian issue, and the Pierre Mortier Issue. The present example was drawn from the 1692 Coven's and Mortier edition. Burden speculates that, as the business relationship between Sanson and Jaillot fully broke down by 1690, it was most likely the Sansons in Amsterdam with whom Mortier worked to produce this map, rather than Jaillot, whose name appears on the imprint. The present example is identified as the Pierre Mortier edition because the initial letter 'A' of Apaches Vaqueros in New Mexico is dissected by a line of longitude.


Alexis-Hubert Jaillot (c. 1632- 1712) followed Nicholas Sanson (1600 - 1667) and his descendants in ushering in the great age of French Cartography in the late 17th and 18th century. The publishing center of the cartographic world gradually transitioned from Amsterdam to Paris following the disastrous inferno that destroyed the preeminent Blaeu firm in 1672. Hubert Jaillot was born in Franche-Comte and trained as a sculptor. When he married the daughter of the enlumineur de ala Reine, Nicholas Berey, he found himself positioned to inherit a lucrative map and print publishing firm. When Nicholas Sanson, the premier French cartographer of the day, died Jaillot negotiated with his heirs to republish much of Sanson's work. Though not a cartographer himself, Jaillot's access to the Sanson plates enabled him to publish numerous maps and atlases with only slight modifications and updates to the plates. As a sculptor and an artist, Jaillot's maps were particularly admired for their elaborate and meaningful allegorical cartouches and other decorative elements. Jaillot used his allegorical cartouche work to extol the virtues of the Sun King Louis IV, and his military and political triumphs. These earned him the patronage of the French crown who used his maps in the tutoring of the young Dauphin. In 1686 he was awarded the title of Geographe du Roi, bearing with it significant prestige and the yearly stipend of 600 Livres. Jaillot was one of the last French map makers to acquire this title. Louis XV, after taking the throne, replaced the position with the more prestigious and singular title of Premier Geographe du Roi. Jaillot died in Paris in 1712. His most important work was his 1693 Le Neptune Francois. Jalliot was succeed by his son, Bernard Jean Hyacinthe Jaillot (1673-1739), grandson, Bernard Antoine Jaillot (???? – 1749) and the latter's brother-in-law, Jean Baptiste-Michel Renou de Chauvigné-Jaillot (1710-1780).

Nicholas Sanson (1600 - 1667) and his descendants were the most influential French cartographers of the 17th century and laid the groundwork for the Golden Age of French Cartography. Sanson started his career as a historian where, it is said, he turned to cartography as a way to illustrate his historical studies. In the course of his research some of his fine maps came to the attention of King Louis XIII who, admiring the quality of his work, appointed Sanson Geographe Ordinaire du Roi. Sanson's duties in this coveted position included advising the king on matters of geography and compiling the royal cartographic archive. In 1644 he partnered with Pierre Mariette, an established print dealer and engraver, whose business savvy and ready capital enabled Sanson to publish an enormous quantity of maps. Sanson's corpus of some three hundred maps initiated the golden age of French mapmaking and he is considered the 'Father of French Cartography.' His work is distinguished as being the first of the 'Positivist Cartographers,' a primarily French school of cartography that valued scientific observation over historical cartographic conventions. The practice result of the is less embellishment of geographical imagery, as was common in the Dutch Golden Age maps of the 16th century, in favor of conventionalized cartographic representational modes. Sanson is most admired for his construction of the magnificent atlas Cartes Generales de Toutes les Parties du Monde. Sanson's maps of North America, Amerique Septentrionale (1650), Le Nouveau Mexique et La Floride (1656), and La Canada ou Nouvelle France (1656) are exceptionally notable for their important contributions to the cartographic perceptions of the New World. Both maps utilize the discoveries of important French missionaries and are among the first published maps to show the Great Lakes in recognizable form. Sanson was also an active proponent of the insular California theory, wherein it was speculated that California was an island rather than a peninsula. After his death, Sanson's maps were frequently republished, without updates, by his sons, Guillaume (? - 1703) and Adrien Sanson (? - 1708). Even so, Sanson's true cartographic legacy as a 'positivist geographer' was carried on by others, including Alexis-Hubert Jaillot, Guillaume De L'Isle, Gilles Robert de Vaugondy, and Pierre Duval.

Pierre Mortier (1661 - 1711) or Pieter Mortier was a cartographer, engraver, and print seller active in Amsterdam during the later 17th and early 18th centuries. Mortier, then known as Pieter, was born in Leiden. He relocated to Paris from 1681 to 1685, adopting the French name Pierre, which he retained throughout his career. There is developed deep French connections by bringing sophisticated Dutch printing technology and experience to nascent French map publishers such as De L'Isle, Sanson, Jaillot, de Fer and De Wit. Consequently, much of Mortier's business was built upon issuing embellished high quality editions of contemporary French maps. In the greater context of global cartography, this was a significant advantage as most Dutch map publishes had, at this point, fallen into the miasma of reprinting their own outdated works. By contrast, the cartographers of France were producing the most accurate and up to date charts anywhere. Mortier's cartographic work culminated in the magnificent nautical atlas, Le Neptune Francois. H was awarded the Privilege, an early form of copyright, in 1690. Upon Pierre's death in 1711 this business was inherited by his widow. In 1721, his son Cornelius Mortier took over the day to day operation of the firm. Cornelius partnered with his brother-in-law Jean Covens to form one of history's great cartographic partnerships - Covens and Mortier - which continued to publish maps and atlases until about 1866.


Jaillot, H., Atlas Nouveau, (Amsterdam: Pierre Mortier) 1692.    


Very good. Minor reinforcement on verso.