Catalog Archive
Auction 138, Lot 840

A Cornerstone Map of the Pacific Northwest with a Huge <I>Sea of the West</I>

"Carte des Nouvelles Decouvertes au Nord de la Mer du Sud, Tant a l'Est de la Siberie et du Kamchatka, qu'a l'Ouest de la Nouvelle France", Delisle/Buache

Subject: North Pacific, Northern Asia and Northwestern North America

Period: 1752 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

25 x 18 inches
63.5 x 45.7 cm
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This is the first state of this important map of the Pacific Northwest and the region that would become Alaska. It depicts the discoveries of the Russians in 1723, 1732 and 1741, the tracks of Bering's first and second voyages, Joseph Nicolas Delisle's voyage with Capt. Tchirikow in 1741, the track of De Frondat's voyage of 1709, and the route of the Galleons in 1743. But more importantly it features the imaginary cartographic theories of Philippe Buache for the first time on a printed map. The west coast of North America is entirely fictitious north of Cap Blanc with an enormous Sea of the West, Lac Valasco, Isle of Bernarda. A network of rivers and lakes making up most of a Northwest Passage is derived from the apocryphal voyages of the Spanish Admiral Bartholome de Fonte. The title is contained in a rococo cartouche flanked by a native of Kamchatka in upper left corner, a native of Louisiana in upper right corner.

Joseph Nicolas Delisle's presentation to the French Academy of Sciences and Buache's subsequent publication of this map sparked a debate over the geography of the region that raged in cartographic circles for nearly 30 years. The Sea of the West presented here is Buache's first depiction of the huge sea. The concept contained several inconsistencies with the sources credited and was soon rejected by J.N. Delisle, who published his own map of the region shortly thereafter. Buache himself later changed his depiction of this sea.

References: Falk 1752-7; Hayes 41; Kershaw 1201; McGuirk 17; Schwartz & Ehrenberg plt. 94; Wagner (NW) 566.

Condition: A

Sharp impression and original color with faint damp stain in the lower, very wide margins.

Estimate: $3,000 - $4,000

Sold for: $2,200

Closed on 12/7/2011