Le Canada, ou Nouvelle France, &c .

SANSON d'Abbeville, Nicolas (1600-67)

Published by Chez Pierre Mariette Rue S. Jacque, Paris, 1656
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From Donald A. Heald Rare Books (ABAA) (New York, NY, U.S.A.)

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Copper-engraved map, period hand colouring in outline. A lovely example of one of the most important and influential maps of Canada ever devised. This very rare map is the most geographically progressive portrayal of Canada made during the mid-17th century, and was not superseded until Guillaume De L'Isle's 1703 map. While it bases many of its features on Sanson's watershed map of the continent, Amerique Septentrionale (1650), it is more advanced than it in key respects. Importantly, it is the first map to depict "L. Erie ou Du Chat" in a recognizable form. This designation was derived from Jean Boisseau, who in 1643 named the body of water after the local native name "Derie," which referred to the panther like qualities of their warriors. Sanson benefited from having received a copy of The Jesuit Relations , published in Paris in 1649, a detailed account by French missionaries who had traveled in the region. Most notably, this included Father Paul Ragueneau's account of his visit to Niagara Falls and Jean Nicollet's discovery of Lake Michigan, "Lac des Puans," in 1634. Down the St. Lawrence River from the lakes, Montréal is named, the settlement having been founded by the Sieur de Maisonneuve in 1642. Elsewhere, to the north, a mysterious strait weaves over "New South Wales" on Hudson's Bay, terminating in the interior of the continent, a blank space labeled as "Mer Glaciale". This alludes to the existence of a much hoped-for Northwest Passage. Also, on the western shore of the same sea is "Nouveau Danemarcq," referring to the voyage that Danish explorer Jan Munk made to the region in 1619-20. With regards to the east coast of America, Sanson greatly improved upon his earlier work, as Long Island is correctly delineated and "N[ouvelle] Amsterdam" (present day New York) is correctly positioned. "N[ouvelle] Suede," appears at the mouth of the Delaware River, referring to the former Swedish colony centered on Fort Christina, founded on the site of present-day Wilmington, Delaware in 1638. Nicholas Sanson was born in the town of Abbeville in Picardy. Something of a child prodigy, by the age of eighteen, he could already be found in Paris drafting his own maps. There he quickly rose to become Royal Geographer to Louis XIII in 1630. He maintained the position upon the ascension of the "Sun King" Louis XIV in 1643, and later served as tutor to the ambitious young monarch. In 1644, he formed a lucrative partnership with Paris publisher Pierre Mariette with the objective of producing a great atlas that could rival those of the Amsterdam houses, such as Blaeu and Jansson. The present map was devised as one of the most important maps in the atlas. The atlas itself, entitled Les Cartes Générales de toutes les parties du Monde was not finally assembled until 1658. It was however, a landmark moment in the history of French cartography, being the first folio atlas produced in that country. The extremely high quality of Sanson's work motivated other French mapmakers to improve the standard of their production. Sanson also greatly influenced Louis XIV's chief minister, Jean-Baptiste Colbert to heavily fund cartographic projects. This gave rise to a great 'French School' of cartography that was to eventually wrest dominance of the mapmaking market from the Dutch by the 1680s. After Sanson's death in 1667, his work was continued by his sons, Guillaume (d.1703) and Adrian (d.1708). This map was first issued separately in 1656, and also appeared in an unaltered state in various editions of the first modern French atlas, Sanson's Les Cartes Générales de toutes les parties du Monde , produced from 1658 to 1676. Burden, The Mapping of North America I: 318; Kershaw, Early Printed Maps of Canada 133; Pastoreau, Les Atlas Français XVIe-XVIIe Siècles , Sanson VA no.86, p.406; Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Mapping of America , p.114; McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps 656.4; Cumming, Southeast in Early Maps 48; Goss, The Mapping of North America 33. Bookseller Inventory # 25688

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Le Canada, ou Nouvelle France, &c .

Publisher: Chez Pierre Mariette Rue S. Jacque, Paris

Publication Date: 1656

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