Catalog Archive
Auction 177, Lot 96

Lahontan's Map of Canada and the Great Lakes

"Carte Generale de Canada. Dediee au Roy de Danemark par Son Tres Humble et Tres Obeissant et Tres Fidele Serviteur Lahontan", Lahontan, Louis Armand, Baron de

Subject: Colonial Northeastern United States & Canada, Great Lakes

Period: 1705 (circa)

Publication: Nouveaux Voyages de M. le Baron de Lahontan dans l'Amerique Septentrionale

Color: Black & White

21.5 x 16.4 inches
54.6 x 41.7 cm
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This fascinating and oddly inaccurate map of the Great Lakes shows Canada and New England with numerous spurious waterways. Despite the fact that earlier maps had been published with more accurate geographical depictions of the region, Lahontan appears to have used outdated models coupled with his own imagination. The general shape and position of the Great Lakes is distorted, and the representation of the rivers makes it appear that the region is well connected and easily passable through the waterways. As a result, Michigan is shown with a narrow triangular shape in the north. Although there is good detail of the beaver-hunting grounds of the Native Indians, Lahontan's depiction of the interconnected lakes and rivers downplays the difficulties associated with trading in the region. The R. Longue, another of Lahontan's inventions, appears at far left connecting with the Mississippi River.

A number of forts and towns are identified, including Boston, Manhattan (Manate) but without Long Island, Montreal, Quebec (Kebek), and Chicago (Chegakou). Portages between rivers are marked with a Maltese cross and the Indian Villages that were destroyed by the Iroquois are marked by a shield with three dots. A dashed line extending across the map indicates the "limits of Canada per the French" and a note below indicates that this boundary also served as the route that various Indian tribes used to wage war with the Iroquois. This is the second state of the rare and larger first edition of this map.

Louis Armand, Baron de Lahontan served ten years in the French military in Canada, was involved in the Indian Wars, and commanded several posts in the west. He traveled extensively in the Wisconsin and Minnesota region and the upper Mississippi Valley. Upon his return to Europe he wrote his enormously popular travelogue, Nouveaux Voyages de M. le Baron de Lahontan dans l'Amerique Septentrionale. In it he embellished his knowledge of the geography of the Great Lakes region, invented Indian tribes, and created several fictions, particularly the River Longue, which he claimed extended from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Over twenty editions of his book were published between 1703 and 1741, including editions in French, English, Dutch and German. The immense popularity of the book resulted in his distorted cartography being accepted by several eminent cartographers who incorporated the "Lahontan" concepts into most 18th century maps.

References: Kershaw #290; Verner & Stuart-Stubbs #10; Heidenreich & Dahl (TMC 19) p. 4; McCorkle #703.3.

Condition: B

A dark impression, issued folding and printed on two joined sheets, with very light offsetting, tiny holes at fold intersections, and several short tears also along the folds. There is overall light toning and some heavier toning/soiling along several folds.

Estimate: $2,200 - $2,500

Sold for: $1,600

Closed on 4/29/2020