Carte des Lacs du Canada Dresse sur les Manuscrits du Depost des Carts, Plans et Journaux de la Marine et sur le Journal de RP. De Charlevoix.
1744 (dated) 11.25 x 17.5 in (28.575 x 44.45 cm)
1 : 3376000
This is the 1744 Bellin/ Charlevoix map of the Great Lakes, the most accurate map of the Great Lakes to date and the best to be produced since the De l'Isle map of 1718. It is also the earliest obtainable map, preceded only by a 1742 proof noted by Kershaw, to depict the four fictive islands in Lake Superior (Philippeux, Pontchartrain, Maurepas, and St. Anne) - islands that nonetheless significantly influenced the structuring of post-Revolutionary War borders between British Canada and the fledgling United States. It is also notable for being among the earliest maps to identify Detroit and the Port of Chicago. Bellin's map covers all five Great Lakes and their adjacent drainage systems in considerable detail, noting known fortifications, American Indian villages, missions, and some speculative topography (particularly in Michigan).
The SourceBellin prepared this map to be included in Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix's 1744 Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, one of the most comprehensive works on North America predating the French and Indian War. Charlevoix was a Jesuit missionary and traveler commissioned by the French Crown and the Duke of Orleans to explore French holdings in the Americas, and this he did - though in this case the map is based upon manuscripts compiled by Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery, a French Canadian military engineer active throughout the Great Lakes region in the early 18th century.
The Isles of Lake SuperiorDespite Lake Superior having been avoided entirely in Charlevoix's visit to North America, the omission did not prevent the Jesuit from inventing the four spurious islands shown for the first time in this map, here noted as Philippeaux, Pontchartrain, Maurepas, and St. Anne. The islands were intended to honor Charlevoix' s personal patron, the Count of Maurepas, Jean-Frederic Phelypeaux. The largest of the three islands, Philippeaux, is named directly after the count. The second largest island, Pontchartrain, refers to Phelypeaux's family estate. The third island, which may in fact be a mismapping of the factual State Islands, is named after the count's seat, Maurepas. The fourth and smallest of the islands, St. Anne, references the count's patron saint. Charlevoix described the islands as being rich in minerals leading numerous explorers to search for them in vain. Bellin dutifully introduced the four islands to his map, offered here, and such was his influence that they were subsequently copied by most subsequent cartographers, including John Mitchell in his seminal 1755 wall map of North America. The highly regarded Mitchell map was used in negotiating the 1783 Treaty of Paris that formally concluded the American Revolutionary War. Therein, the apocryphal Philippeaux was assigned as a marker for the new United States - British America border thus setting the stage, as one might imagine, for later political strife.
An Influential WorkCopies of the Histoire et Description Generale were to be found in the libraries of many 18th century luminaries, including Voltaire, Franklin, and Jefferson. Jefferson in particular admired Charlevoix's work, calling it 'a particularly useful species of reading.'
Publication History and CensusThis map, as well as Charlevoix's Histoire et Description Generale, are well represented in institutional collections.
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703 - March 21, 1772) was one of the most important cartographers of the 18th century. With a career spanning some 50 years, Bellin is best understood as geographe de cabinet and transitional mapmaker spanning the gap between 18th and early-19th century cartographic styles. His long career as Hydrographer and Ingénieur Hydrographe at the French Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine resulted in hundreds of high quality nautical charts of practically everywhere in the world. A true child of the Enlightenment Era, Bellin's work focuses on function and accuracy tending in the process to be less decorative than the earlier 17th and 18th century cartographic work. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bellin was always careful to cite his references and his scholarly corpus consists of over 1400 articles on geography prepared for Diderot's Encyclopedie. Bellin, despite his extraordinary success, may not have enjoyed his work, which is described as "long, unpleasant, and hard." In addition to numerous maps and charts published during his lifetime, many of Bellin's maps were updated (or not) and published posthumously. He was succeeded as Ingénieur Hydrographe by his student, also a prolific and influential cartographer, Rigobert Bonne.
Pierre François Xavier de Charlevoix, S.J. (October 24 or 29, 1682 – February 1, 1761) was a French Jesuit priest, traveller, and historian, often considered the first historian of New France. He is best known for his Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, in spite of the work being primarily based upon the manuscripts compiled by Gaspard-Joseph Chaussegros de Lery, a French Canadian military engineer active throughout the Great Lakes region in the early 18th century. Charlevoix had been commissioned by the French Crown and the Duke of Orleans to explore French holdings in the Americas, primarily in order to find a profitable route to the Pacific - perhaps via the rivers and lakes west of the Great Lakes suggested by De l'Isle and Lahontan. Charlevoix was not above inventing discoveries: the imaginary islands in Lake Superior that appear frequently in 18th century maps can be laid at Charlevoix's feet, the results of his efforts to flatter his patrons (and patron saints.)
Charlevoix, Pierre François Xavier de, Histoire et description generale de la Nouvelle France, avec le journal historique d'un voyage fait par ordre du roi dans l'Amérique septentrionnale, (Paris) 1744.
Very good condiion. A strong impression. faint offsetting. Margin reinstated at insertion point with no effect on printed image.
Goss, J., The Mapping of North America: Three Centuries of Map-Making 1500-1860, no. 56. Kershaw, K. A., Early Printed Maps of Canada, no. 947. Karpinski, L. C., Bibliography of the Printed Maps of Michigan, 1804-1880, p. 137. Schwartz, S. and Ehrenberg, R., The Mapping of America, p.162