Charming Mid-Eighteenth Century French Atlas with 90 Maps
"Atlas Nouveau Portatif a l'Usage des Militaires, et du Voyageur Contenant 91 Cartes Dressees sur les Nouvelles Observations", Le Rouge, George Louis
Period: 1756 (published)
Color: Hand Color
7.5 x 9.6 inches
19.1 x 24.4 cm
This charming "portable" atlas includes all 91 plates and a 36-page introduction to geography. The plates consist of 90 maps and charts and a plate of maritime flags around the world. There are charts of the solar system, celestial hemispheres, and terrestrial and celestial globes. The maps include the world, the five continents, 66 relating to Europe, 9 relating to Asia, Egypt, and 5 relating to the Caribbean.
The world map, Mappe Monde qui Comprend les Nouvelles Decouvertes Faites Jusqu'a ce Jour, is a double-hemisphere map with the female representations of the continents adorning each corner. The Northwest part of North America includes a complex river and lake system alluding to a Northwest Passage and has been updated from the previous edition to include conjectural coastlines and another Northwest Passage. The only place names in North America are Californie, F. Francois, Louisiane, N. Orleans, Virginie, and Quebec. Nouvelle Hollande is shown with the known coastlines connected between the mainland, Tasmania and New Guinea, creating an oddly shaped landmass. Terre d'Yesso (Hokkaido) is only partially delineated, and an island labeled appears just to the east.
The map of North America, L'Amerique Septentrionale, repeats the interesting theoretical cartography concerning two Northwest Passages. The most prominent feature is a River of the West, which connects Lake Superior with the Lake of the Woods and Lake Winnipeg and then flows off the map supposedly to the Pacific. It also links through a system of streams and lakes to Hudson Bay. A note in the Pacific Northwest has been added to mark the land seen by Chirikov in 1741.
The lovely frontispiece features putti presenting a stack of books to a female figure (possibly Aphrodite holding a mirror). In the background, a ship is filled with women and children, with one of the females apparently using a depth measuring device. The atlas is dedicated to Jean-Frederic Phelypeaux, Count of Maurepas, and features the family coat of arms at bottom right.
This example is missing only the list of maps, which has been recreated by a previous owner in old manuscript ink and pasted into the volume after the title page. Octavo in quarter leather with tan paper-covered boards and gilt tooling on spine.
The maps are in contemporary outline color with minor soiling, light dampstains affecting the edges of the some of the maps, and short centerfold separations on a number of maps. There are longer centerfold separations on 7 maps (Hispaniola, Philippines, Holy Land, Japan, Spain & Portugal, German Empire, and Brittany). The map of France is almost completely separated along the centerfold, and the map of Basse Saxe was completely separated but has been reattached. A few maps are beginning to detach from the volume. The covers are worn and soiled with heavily bumped corners. The spine also shows some wear with a few small abrasions.