Catalog Archive
Auction 189, Lot 181

First Edition of Lahontan's Influential Map Depicting "Riviere Longue"

"Carte que les Gnacsitares ont Dessine sur ... Carte de la Riviere Longue et de Quelques Autres qui se Dechargent dans le Grand Fleuve Missisipi …", Lahontan, Louis Armand, Baron de

Subject: Colonial Upper Midwestern United States, River Longue

Period: 1703 (circa)

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

Color: Black & White

26.3 x 11 inches
66.8 x 27.9 cm
Download High Resolution Image
(or just click on image to launch the Zoom viewer)

This is one of the most influential, and fanciful, maps in American cartographic history. It purports to show the Riviere Longue flowing from the western mountains, home to the Gnacsitares Indians, and connecting to the Mississippi River. On the western side of the mountains is another river, presumably flowing into the Pacific. Lahontan's concept was copied by virtually all 18th century cartographers including Moll, Senex, Popple, and Delisle, thus perpetuating the myth. The map also includes balloon-shaped Lakes Superior and Michigan. This is the scarce first state without a longitudinal scale at the top. Printed on two sheets, joined as issued.

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 #298; Verner & Stuart Stubbs #20; Lemmon, Magil & Wiese (LA) #14.

Condition: B+

A sharp impression, issued folding and now flattened with folds professionally reinforced on verso. There is light offsetting, a few tiny spots, and a bit of toning along the horizontal fold. Narrow side margins, as issued.

Estimate: $1,600 - $1,900

Sold for: $3,500

Closed on 9/14/2022