AE Monthly

Book Catalogue Reviews - June - 2012 Issue

Antique Maps and Plans from Martayan Lan

Dejodena

North America was much larger in 1593.

Item 19 is the first printed folio map of North America, from the Antwerp mapmaker Cornelis de Jode in 1593: Americae Pars Borealis... What is immediately striking is how wrong much of it is. This is to be forgiven, as while there was a decent amount of information available by then about the east coast, the interior and Pacific coast were virtually unknown. The result is a continent absolutely huge, much larger east to west than reality. There is also a wide land mass to the north of the continent, but de Jode has kindly left a channel between the two. In other words, he has anticipated the existence of a Northwest Passage, though it would take centuries before such an opening was discovered, generally too frozen to be of much practical use. When one looks a little deeper at the map, however, you find some of the early features de Jode did get right. It includes early entries for the names of Virginia and St. Augustine. The St. Lawrence River is well displayed, though much longer than it is, and four internal lakes are shown, early renditions of the Great Lakes, based on Indian reports rather than western exploration. $65,000.

Item 67 is a map of Mexico at a critical time of U.S. expansion, 1847: Map of Mexico Including Yucatan & Upper California... created by S.A. Mitchell. This map was produced during the Mexican War, when boundaries were being challenged. “Upper California,” comprising today's state of California, Arizona, and much of New Mexico, was still Mexican territory, but not for much longer. Texas had recently been admitted to statehood, but Mexico still claimed it to be Mexican territory. Texas is outlined in red, and it is much larger than today's state, including parts of what are five other states today. A thin arm of land extends all the way north into today's Wyoming. New Mexico is particularly odd on this map, consisting of a narrow boot of land sandwiched between a large Texas and an even larger California. $8,500.

Item 121 is a map circa 1550 from the noted mapmaker Sebastian Munster. It is headed Moderna Europa Descriptio. It is very disconcerting to look at. It is inverted, that is, the top is south, the bottom north. You have to turn it upside down to make sense out of it. Of course, there is no reason maps cannot be this way, but we have become so used to north being on top that any other view is hard to understand. It is unclear why Munster prepared his map this way since the traditional format had been established long ago. $1,850.

You can reach Martayan Lan at 212-308-0018 or info@martayanlan.com. Their website is www.martayanlan.com.

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