This is a scarce 1701 map of the West Indies and northern South America by Herman Moll. It covers from Cuba south as far as the Amazon River. Includes the modern day nations of Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Guyana and Brazil. Moll notes the city of Manoa and the location of El Dorao west of the Prime or Parima Lake.
Though by this point in history, the general outlines of South America are well established by regular circumnavigations of the continent, the interior is entirely speculative. Many Europeans believed that the most likely site of El Dorado was the mythical city of Manoa located here on the shores of the Lake Parima (Prime Lake), near modern day Guyana, Venezuela, or northern Brazil. Manoa was first identified by Sr. Walter Raleigh in 1595. Raleigh does not visit the city of Manoa (which he believes is El Dorado) himself due to the onset of the rainy season, however he describes the city, based on indigenous accounts, as resting on a salt lake over 200 leagues wide. This lake does have some basis in fact. Parts of the Amazon were at the time dominated by a large and powerful indigenous trading nation known as the Manoa. The Manoa traded the length and breadth of the Amazon. The onset of the rainy season inundated the great savannahs of the Rupununi, Takutu, and Rio Branco or Parima Rivers. This inundation briefly connected the Amazon and Orinoco river systems, opening an annual and well used trade route for the Manoans. The Manoans who traded with the Incans in the western Amazon, had access to gold mines on the western slopes of the Andes, and so, when Raleigh saw gold rich Indian traders arriving in Guyana, he made the natural assumption for a rapacious European in search of El Dorado. When he asked the Orinocans where the traders were from, they could only answer, 'Manoa.' Thus did Lake Parime or Parima and the city of Manoa begin to appear on maps in the early 17th century. The city of Manoa and Lake Parima would continue to be mapped in this area until about 1800.
Overall, an important map noting the cartographic speculations of the time. This map was issued in Herman Moll's 1701 System of Geography.
Herman Moll (1654 - 1732) was an important 18th century map publisher and engraver based in London and Holland. Moll's origins are disputed with some suggesting he was born in the Netherlands and others Germany - the Moll name was common in both countries during this period. Most likely Moll was a German from Bremen, as his will, friends, and contemporaries suggest. What is known for certain is that he moved to London in 1678, possibly fleeing the Scanian War, where he worked as an engraver for Moses Pitt and other London map publishers. Around the turn of the century, Moll set up his own shop where he produced a large corpus of work known for its high quality and decorative flair. As a new émigré to England, Moll made himself more English than the English, and through his cartography proved a fierce advocate for his adopted nation. Most of Moll's early maps were issued as loose sheets that would be bound to order, however, he did publish several important atlases late in his career. Moll is said to have made the bold claim that without a doubt "California is an Island" and that he "had in [his] office mariners who have sailed round it." While California may not be an island (yet), it is true that moll had talent for attracting interesting friends and acquaintances. He frequented London's first stock exchange, Jonathan's Coffeehouse at Number 20 Exchange Alley, Cornhill. At the time Jonathan's was known as "a place of very considerable concourse for Merchants, sea faring Men and other traders" (Erleigh, The Viscount, The South Sea Bubble, Manchester: Peter Davies, Ltd., 1933, 21). Eventually this activity attracted the interest of stock brokers, who inspired by sailor's tales, sponsored the ill-fated South Sea Company, the world's first stock bubble. Moll's close circle, mostly from the Coffee House, included scientist Robert Hooke, the writers Daniel Defoe (Robinson Crusoe) and Jonathan Swift (Gulliver's Travels), the pirates William Dampier, William Hacke and Woodes Rogers, and the archeologist William Stukeley. Herman Moll's work was highly regarded for its decorative beauty and was pirated, most notably by the Irish publisher George Grierson, both in his lifetime and after his 1732 death at St. Clement Danes, London. Learn More...
Moll, H., A System of Geography: Or, A New and Accurate Description of the Earth In all its Empires, Kingdoms and States (London), 1701.
Herman Moll's A System of Geography was first published in 1701. A System of Geography was essentially a larger version of Timothy Childe and Abel Swall's 1695 Thesaurus Geographicus, for which Moll engraved several maps. The enormous success of the Thesaurus Geographicus most likely provided the inspiration for Moll to publish a more complete atlas of his own, which finally resolved into the 1701 issue of A System of Geography. The additional maps included in A System of Geography were stamped 'New' to distinguish them from those rolled over from the Thesaurus. A System of Geography was issued in two parts containing numerous maps as well as extensive descriptive text. It was printed in London by both Timothy Childe and J. Churchill.
Very good. Original platemark visible. Minor spotting. Text on verso.