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1720 Homann Map of the Mississippi Valley (United States, Louisiana, Texas, British Colonies)


1720 Homann Map of the Mississippi Valley (United States, Louisiana, Texas, British Colonies)


The Bufflao Map.



Amplissimae Regionis Mississipi seu Provinciae Ludovicianae a R.P. Ludovico Hennepin Francisc Miss in America Septentrionali Anno 1687. Detectae, Nunc Gallorum Coloniis et Actionum Negotiis Toto Orbe Celeberrimae.
  1720 (undated)     19 x 22.5 in (48.26 x 57.15 cm)     1 : 7200000


An iconic c. 1720 map of the Mississippi River Valley by Johann Baptiste Homan. Commonly called the 'Buffalo Map' for its distinctive decorative elements depicting a stylized buffalo, this map is derived from an earlier 1718 map of the same region by G. De L'Isle though it has been enlarged to include New England. The map covers much of the modern day United States from Canada and the Great Lakes to the Florida Keys and from Mexico and Texas to the Pacific. According to the political conventions of the time this map is segmented into various zones including New Mexico (red) along the Rio de Norte (Rio Grande), Louisiana (yellow) covering a vast area including Texas, all five of the Great Lakes, and both the upper and lower Mississippi River Valleys, Florida (red) consisting most of the American southeast, the English Colonies (green) along the Atlantic seaboard, and Canada (red) stretching across the top of the map north of the Great Lakes. Various explorers' routes (including de Soto) are noted, as are mission settlements, American Indian villages, fortifications, and portages. Florida is depicted as an archipelago inhabited by anthropophagi (cannibals). The cartouche work, in the upper left quadrant, details Niagara Falls as well as various allegorical illustrations. A secondary cartouche, showing American Indians and a stylized buffalo appears in the lower right.

This map enjoyed a long production run and was extremely popular throughout europe – most likely for its decorative inclusion of the American Buffalo and Niagara Falls, objects of fascination for many 18th century europeans. Though this map was issued in only one edition, it was published in Homann's Neuer Atlas, the Atlas Major, and many other composite atlases well into the late 1700s, making specific instances of the map all but possible to date with precision. Most examples thus reference the original publication date, c. 1720.


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., Neuer Atlas, c. 1720. (Also in numerous composite atlases)    


Average. Even overall age toning. Soiling. Trimmed to the neatline. Original centerfold exhibits some wear. Verso repair upper right quadrant.


OCLC 698853005. Cumming, W., The Southeast in Early Maps, no. 170. Wheat, C. I., Mapping of the Transmississippi West, 1540 – 1861, 144. Goss, J., The Mapping of North America: Thre Centuries of Map-Making 1500-1860, #49. McCorkle, B. B, New England in Early Printed Maps 1513 - 1800, 720.1. Sellers, John R. and Van Ee, Patricia, Maps and Charts of North America, no. 102. Lowery, W., The Lowery Collection, 475. Day, J. M., Maps of Texas, 1527-1900: The Map Collection of the Texas State Archives, 401.