Landmark Map for Mapping of the Mississippi River
"Les Costes aux Environs de la Riviere de Misisipi. Decouvertes par Mr. de la Salle en 1683. et Reconnues par Mr. le Chevallier d'Jberville en 1698. et 1699", Fer, Nicolas de
Subject: Colonial Southern United States
Period: 1705 (dated)
Publication: L’Atlas Curieux...
Color: Hand Color
13.2 x 8.6 inches
33.5 x 21.8 cm
This interesting map focuses on the French explorations in the Mississippi Valley and the Gulf Coast, and is the fist to incorporate the Spanish discoveries in the region. Here, De Fer highlights information gleaned from the expeditions of La Salle and Iberville with the primary purpose of showing the progress of French exploration in the region. La Salle had explored the Mississippi from the north in 1682-83 and returned by sea to establish a French colony in 1685. He missed the Mississippi delta and landed on the Texas coast, an error probably due to his inability to calculate longitude and because prominent maps of the period placed the mouth of the river far to the west of its true location. In 1686, Spanish pilot Juan Enriquez Barroto set off in search of La Salle's colony and made detailed records of estuaries and landmarks along the Gulf Coast. Although his map is lost, it was copied on a manuscript chart by Juan Bisente, who was captured by the French in 1697 along with his map. As a result, De Fer was able to include the new and more accurate Spanish information on his map, in particular the southeastward trending lower course of the Mississippi River, which had been incorrectly depicted on previous maps. The map also shows the basically correct relationship of the Mississippi River to Lake Pontchartrain and the Gulf of Mexico. The site of La Salle's ill-fated colony near Matagorda Bay in modern-day Texas is shown and the title cartouche also dramatizes the explorer's tragic death at the hands of his own men. Engraved by Vincent de Ginville. As a result of combining both French and Spanish explorations, De Fer was able to produce the most accurate map of the region for its time. The map was first published in 1701, and then reissued in De Fer's Atlas Curieux in 1705. This landmark map was used as the cover illustration for The Historic New Orleans Collection's excellent reference work, Charting Louisiana.
References: Day #1458; Lemmon, Magill & Wiese #12; Martin & Martin #13; Pastoureau, FER ID.
A crisp impression on watermarked paper with a small rust spot at top left, a damp stain just below the title cartouche, and several damp stains along the edges of the sheet, entering the map image at bottom left.