Auction 137, Lot 96

Scarce edition of Nolin's Map of the Americas

"L'Amerique ou le Nouveau Continent Dressee sur les Memoires les Plus Nouveaux ... Dediee et Presentee a Monsiegneur Law …", Nolin, Jean Batiste

Subject: Western Hemisphere

Period: 1720 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

23.5 x 17.5 inches
59.7 x 44.5 cm

This scarce map of the Americas includes one of the most interesting depictions of the Sea of the West (Mer de l'ouest) in North America. The first printed map to show the Sea of the West is Nolin's rare world map (Shirley #605) in 1700. That map was in turn is supposedly based on a manuscript map prepared by Delisle. It showed a huge sea that reached all the way into the heart of the continent. Nolin was sued over his use of Delisle's information and thereafter he significantly altered the size and shape of the sea on his subsequent publications, as presented here. Another intriguing feature is the Northwest Passage that conveniently disappears into the top border, so that the midsection is left to the imagination. Florida is depicted as a large archipelago, and the vast Mississippi valley shows the river's source in the Canadian frontier. In South America, the Amazon and Rio de la Plata are both well placed, but the Andes are conspicuously sparse. In the South Pacific a very large coastline of New Zealand appears and many of the islands in the Pacific are badly misplaced or completely spurious. This is the first state of the map.

The large title cartouche features a river god representing the Mississippi and a coat of arms with three French cockerels. Nolin dedicated this map to Monseigneur Law, Controlleur Genal des Finances. John Law, a Scottish financier, was in charge of the economic recovery of France after wars waged by Louis XIV. An important component of his plan was the exploitation of the French possessions in Louisiana. That led to a wild period of speculation throughout Europe, and eventually one of the worst financial crises in history, known as the Mississippi Bubble.

References: McGuirk #8.

Condition: B+

Nice impression on a large sheet with wide margins. The huge watermark features a Maltese Cross circled by a necklace of pearls. There is a paper repair at bottom centerfold and lower left margin.

Estimate: $1,600 - $2,000

Sold for: $1,200

Closed on 9/14/2011