DE FER, Nicolas (1646-1720). Partie Meridionale de la Riviere de Missisipi. Paris: 1718.

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Single sheet (30 x 21 1/2 inches, full margins showing the plate mark). A fine engraved map of the Southeastern United States, Mississippi Valley, Texas, the Rio Grande Valley and Gulf of Mexico.

By the early years of the seventeenth century, the struggle for colonial supremacy in the Americas had begun between France and Britain. The British held the mid-Atlantic coast, bound to the west by vast mountain ranges, while the French controlled the rugged coastline of eastern Canada and thus the extensive inland waterways of North America. This gave France unprecedented access to America's greater expanses and by the end of the seventeenth century she dominated the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes, which traversed nearly half the continent east-west, and the Mississippi River, which secured the continent the Gulf of Mexico. France dominated the most strategic transportation and communications channels in America, and thus ruled the heart of the continent.

As a result of her supremacy, France's explorers were to make the greatest gains in discovering America's previously hidden geography and, accordingly, French cartographers produced the most accurate maps of the continent.

De Fer drew heavily upon the most up-to-date information available and mainly relied upon the manuscript maps of J. B. Franquelin who, stationed at Montreal, compiled state-of-the-art data from various explorers. His depiction of the Great Lakes and Mississippi is more detailed than Coronelli's (1690) and eliminates the cartographer's erroneous placement of Taos south of Santa Fe. The various Mississippi tributaries are delineated more accurately as are the lakes in central Canada west of Hudson Bay. A complete understanding of the water systems connecting the St. Lawrence River with Hudson Bay is also demonstrated.

This important map of French Louisiana intimately connected with the French Mississippi Scheme of the mid and late 1710’s. This map was first published in 1715, and re-issued in 1718 both as a single-sheet and as the botton left-hand sheet of a wall-map of Eastern North America published for the French Compagnie d’Occident, designed as a promotional tool to encourage investment in the company and settlement in the region. The scheme (and other in a similar vein) ended in widespead financial catastrophe.