Mappa totius mundi : adornata juxta observationes dnn. academiae regalis scientiarum et nonnullorum aliorum secundum annotationes recentissimas.
1775 (undated) 19 x 26 in (48.26 x 66.04 cm)
1 : 75000000
This is a stunning double hemisphere map of the world prepared by Guillaume Delisle and published by Tobias Conrad Lotter in 1775. The map consists of two central hemispheres, eastern and western, surrounded by two smaller polar projections. Cartographically this map is altogether fascinating and exemplifies Delisle's careful scientific style of cartography.
Starting in North America we find a number of cartographic advances attributable to Delisle's cautious style. California has been reattached to the mainland of North America following the discoveries of the Kino expedition of the early 1700s. The northwestern part of North America, still largely unexplored, has been left blank, though the lands supposedly discovered by Jean de Gama do peak out from the Asian side of the map. In the better known parts of North America the Mississippi is clearly mapped with its major tributaries. The Great Lakes are fairly well mapped, following the model established by V. Coronelli in the late 17th Century. Far to the north, the Hudson Bay and Baffin Bay, along with Greenland, form a closed series of seas with minimal suggestion of a Northwest Passage. Delisle offers only one possible route westward, an opening in the northwestern part of the Hudson Bay, which is labels 'Ne Ultra' or 'Nothing More.' Delisle's clear rejection of a Northwest Passage to the Pacific is a bold move for the period. This decision set him in direct opposition to the colonial powers, particularly England and France, who were actively searching for just such a route. The important cities of New York, Quebec, Montreal, Charleston, St. Augustine, Santa Fe, and Boston are identified.
One of the most interesting features of the map is the depiction of 'Frislandia' between Iceland and Greenland. Frislandia, not to be confused with Frisland, on the European mainland, is a 'Ghost Island' that supposed appeared and disappeared on the horizon. Most maps issued by 1750 or so abandoned this notion, but as the legend and indeed this map attest, the island does have a habit of reappearing.
South America is typically well mapped along its coast which is in sharp contrast to its vague and speculative interior. Nonetheless, Delisle does make a number of advances over earlier maps. He does away with Raligh's Lake Parima and El Dorado, commonly rendered in Guyana, while at the same time advancing a more significant Lac de Xarayes. Delisle's large and prominent Lac de Xarayes is rendered as the northern terminus of the Paraguay River. The Xarayes, a corruption of 'Xaraies' meaning 'Masters of the River,' were an indigenous people occupying what are today parts of Brazil's Matte Grosso and the Pantanal. When Spanish and Portuguese explorers first navigated the Paraguay River, as always in search of El Dorado, they encountered the vast Pantanal flood plain at the height of its annual inundation. Understandably misinterpreting the flood plain as a gigantic inland sea, they named it after the local inhabitants, the Xaraies. The Laguna de los Xarayes, accessible only through the Gate of Kings, almost immediately began to appear on early maps of the region and, at the same time, took on a legendary aspect. The Lac or Laguna Xarayes was often considered to be a gateway to the Amazon and the Kingdom of El Dorado.
Moving across the map to the Eastern Hemisphere, we are immediately struck by Delisle's innovative and fascinating rendering of the discoveries in the South Pacific, including Australia (Nouvelle Hollande), New Zealand, New Guinea, and the Solomon Islands. Earlier editions of this map featured a large hypothetical polar landmass called Terre Australis. Terre Australis was a massive continent conjectured to occupy much of the Southern Hemisphere. It was commonly believed that Terre Australis must exist to counterbalance the great weight of the Asian continent in the Northern Hemisphere just as the Americas counterbalanced Europe, Africa and Asia. Delisle has here removed the polar Terre Australis and instead joins the largely unexplored Australia (Nouvelle Holland) with New Guinea.
Asia too exhibits a number of interesting advances over previous mappings. Korea is firmly peninsular and is separated by Japan by the Mer Orientale. Curiously Japan, via Hokkaido (Terra Yesdo) is attached to the Asian mainland. Just to the northeast of Japan, separated from the mainland by the Detroit d'Uries, we find Terre de La Compagnie and, extending to the opposite side of the map, Terre de Gama. Often mapped together, these lands, Gama and Terre de la Compagnie, were islands supposedly discovered in the 17th century by a mysterious figure known as Jean de Gama. Various subsequent navigators claim to have seen these lands, but it was left to Vitus Bering to finally debunk the myth. In 1729, Bering he spent three days in the region looking for Juan de Gama's island but never found it. Thought some speculate that Gama and Compagnie may be little more than a mis-mappings of Hokkaido or the Japanese Kuriles, these curious islands remained on maps for about 50 years following Bering's voyages until the explorations of Cook confirmed the Bering findings.
Africa, like South America, is well mapped coastally but exhibits a conjectural and tentative interior cartography. Nonetheless, true to form, Delisle does make a number of advances. Most significantly, he does away with the traditional Ptolemaic two-lake theory regarding the source of the White Nile and instead sends the White Nile eastward toward the Niger. The idea that the White Nile has a Sub-Saharan source to the west was a popular interpretation of early texts on the region through rarely appears on maps – this being the exception.
Throughout Delisle painstakingly renders the routes of various explorers including, Magellan, Tasman, Pslsart, Dampier, Gaetan, Dudley, L'Ovilier, and many others. He also notes the curious and often speculative lands many of these explorers discovered, including Halley's glaciers, the Isle de Saxembourg of Linderman Holl, David Anglois' discovery in the south pacific (Easter Island?), the Island of Vaginas (a proto Hawaii?), and many others. The Sargasso Sea, the Grand Banks, and the glaciers of the Antarctic are also noted.
There are also two smaller polar projections situated at the top corners of the maps. The right hand projection focuses on the Northern Hemisphere while the left hand projection depicts the Southern.
Elaborate decorative cartouche work illustrates the title. The primary title cartouche, top center, features the four great continents represented in allegorical female form: America, Europa, Africa, and Asia.
Tobias Conrad Lotter (1717 - 1777) was a German engraver and map publisher. He married the daughter of prominent map publisher Matthaus Seutter, the Elder. Upon Seutter's retirement Lotter took control of the firm and republished many of his maps with minor updated and changes. In time, Lotter became one of the most prominent mid 18th century map publishers working in the German school. After his death in 1777, the firm was taken over by his son, Mathias Albrecht Lotter who republished and updated many of his father's maps.
The De L'Isle family (fl. c. 1700 - c. 1760) (also written Delisle) were, in composite, a mapmaking tour de force who redefined early 18th century European cartography. Claude De L'Isle (1644 -1720), the family patriarch, was Paris based a historian and geographer under Nicholas Sanson. De L'Isle and his sons were proponents of the school of "positive geography" and were definitive figures, defining the heights of the Golden Age of French Cartography. Of his twelve sons, four, Guillaume (1675- 1726), Simon Claude (1675 - 1726), Joseph Nicholas (1688 - 1768) and Louis (1720 - 1745), made a significant contributions to cartography. Without a doubt Guillaume was the most remarkable member of the family. It is said that Guillaume's skill as a cartographer was so prodigious that he drew his first map at just nine years of age. He was tutored by J. D. Cassini in astronomy, science, mathematics and cartography. By applying these diverse disciplines to the vast stores of information provided by 18th century navigators, Guillaume created the technique that came to be known as "scientific cartography", essentially an extension of Sanson's "positive geography". This revolutionary approach transformed the field of cartography and created a more accurate picture of the world. Among Guillaume's many firsts are the first naming of Texas, the first correct map of the Mississippi, the final rejection of the insular California fallacy, and the first identification of the correct longitudes of America. Stylistically De L'Isle also initiated important changes to the medium, eschewing the flamboyant Dutch style of the previous century in favor of a highly detailed yet still decorative approach that yielded map both beautiful and informative. Guillaume was elected to the French Academie Royale des Sciences at 27. Later, in 1718, he was also appointed "Premier Geographe du Roi", an office created especially for him. De L'Isle personally financed the publication of most of his maps, hoping to make heavy royalties on their sales. Unfortunately he met an untimely death in 1728, leaving considerable debt and an impoverished child and widow. De L'Isle's publishing firm was taken over by his assistant, Phillipe Buache who became, posthumously, his son in law. The other De L'Isle brothers, Joseph Nicholas and Louis De L'Isle, were employed in the Service of Peter the Great of Russia as astronomers and surveyors. They are responsible for cataloguing and compiling the data obtained from Russian expeditions in the Pacific and along the northwest coast of America, including the seminal explorations of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov. The De L'Isles, like their rivals the Vaugondys , must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver.
Very good. Some wear and verso repair along edges and centerfold. Minor print creases. Original platemark visible.
Osher Map Library, OL2211. Library of Congress, Map Division, G3200 1690 .L5 Vault. National Library of Australia, NK 4628.