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Antique Maps of the Caribbean Basin

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Van Keulen West Indies
Gerard van Keulen. "Pas Kaart van de Golff van Mexico." Amsterdam, [1684]-ca. 1704+. Third edition. 20 1/4 x 22 7/8. Engraving. Very good condition. Lowery: 236; cf. Martin & Martin: 11. Denver.

This map probably first appeared in van Keulen's great Zee-Atlas about 1684, the fourth volume which contained maps of the Americas. The map, called by Martin & Martin as the "most sophisticated rendering of the coast then available," is oriented to the west and shows the western half of the Gulf of Mexico with the coast of Florida from Pensacola to the west, all of present-day Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas, and Mexico to the Yucatan Peninsula. An inset at lower left shows the harbor of Vera Cruz and the island Fort of San Juan d'Ulloa northwest of the mouth of what was then the Medelin River. This map is a version of the original chart by Claes Jansz. Vooght, but updated by Gerard van Keulen, the son of Johannes, the founder of the van Keulen firm, who passed on the firm to his son in 1704. Gerard was a serious mathematician whose work was so respected that in 1714 he was appointed as the official hydrographer for the East India Company. Here, Gerard has added significantly to the information presented on the chart, demonstrating his intent that his maps be as comprehensive and accurate as possible. This chart would have appeared well into the 18th century, but the strong impression of this example gives evidence that this is an early printing of the reworked, second edition plate. $4,600

Nicolaus Visscher II. "Insula Matanino Vulgo Martanico in luceum edita per Nicolaum Visscher cum Privilegio Ordin: General: Belgii Fœderati." Amsterdam: N. Visscher, ca. 1700? 18 1/4 x 22 1/8. Engraving. Original outline color. Expertly repaired tears in center of image. Lightened stains from old repair in upper center. Else, clean and in good condition.

A lovely map of the island of Martinico by Dutch cartographer Nicolaus Visscher. The information is copious and quite accurate, as with most maps of their own lands by cartographers in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The decorative features of the map are outstanding, and they are here extremely well presented with the rich impression of this wonderful engraving. The combination of decorative title and fine detail is reminiscent of work by the Blaeu family earlier in the century. A superb map from the Dutch cartographic tradition. $450

Moll West Indies
Herman Moll. "A Map of the West Indies or the Islands of America in the North Sea." London: H. Moll, ca. 1715-20. 23 x 39 3/4. Engraving. Original outline color. Some wear and minor stains in bottom margin. Overall, very good condition. [Note that photograph has reflection in image] Denver.

A map of the West Indies showing great detail in an unusually large format. The map is by Herman Moll, who was a Dutch émigré to England after 1680. Moll soon established his own business and became England's most prominent map publisher, his prolific output covered a wide range from loose maps to atlases. His work was highly regarded and often copied due to the quality of detail found in his maps. One of his most famous atlases contained a series of huge maps that incorporated copious details. Moll is known for his extensive notes that appeared in cartouches and around the face of the map. This map of the West Indies and parts of North and South America is a good example of the quality and detail of his output. Most islands are named and major ports identified, and included are the directions of the winds and the routes taken by boats between the islands, including the "Tract of the Gallions from Old Spain." The map extends to show the southeastern part of North America, most of Central America, and the northern part of South America. The interior information focuses mostly on rivers, forts, and native tribes. Moll includes a few interesting comments in the region that is today Texas, stating "Many Nations on ye heads of this Branches who use horses and Trade with the French and Spanjards," as well as noting that it is a "Country Full of Beeves," that is the wild Spanish cattle that would later be called Texan Longhorns. An inset in the bottom left corner contains a bird's eye view of Mexico City. $3,800

Moll: Jamaica
Herman Moll. "A New Map of the Island of Jamaica." From Atlas Geographus: or; A Compleat System of Geography, (Ancient and Modern) For America. London: John Nicholson, 1717. 10 x 7. Engraving. Hand outline color. Very good condition.

A fine early map of Jamaica showing good detail of the island. The map is by Herman Moll, who was a Dutch emigré to England after 1680. Moll soon established his own business and became England's most prominent map publisher. His prolific output covered a wide range from loose maps to atlases. His work was highly regarded and often copied due to the quality of detail found in his maps. The detail on this map is copious, and it includes indications of many principal plantations, including those producing sugar, cotton, indigo, and cacao. $350

Guillaume Delisle. "Carte du Mexique et de la Floride des Terres Angloises..." Amsterdam: Covens & Mortier, 1722. 18 1/4 x 23 1/2. Engraving. Original hand color. Stain along center fold at bottom. Else, very good condition. References: Lowery: 313; J. & R. Martin, p.92; Tooley Amer, p. 23, #51; Karpinski, Michigan, LI; Boston Public Library, Leventhal Map Center. Denver.

An early Dutch edition of one of the most significant maps by Guillaume Delisle (1675-1726), the leading French cartographer of the eighteenth century and one of the greatest of all time. He is known as the "father of scientific cartography" for his production of maps based upon scientific principles and his role in establishing this as the standard for all cartographers. According to Tooley, "his work was highly rated, not only by his own countrymen, but by the world at large." (Maps and Mapmakers, 43), and he was certainly "the most prominent figure at the beginning of the century." (Ibid.)

With this particular map (appearing initially in 1703), Delisle offered the first relatively accurate charting of the Mississippi Valley, and thus seriously influenced the mapping of the area for over a century to come. His delineation was based on thorough research, taking advantage of information gleaned from the survivors of the La Salle expedition down the Mississippi, as well as from other important reports and explorations. For example, his use of the works of Franquelin, Joliet, and others contributed much to his vastly improved depiction of the Great Lakes. Another of the many important cartographic facts here is his depiction of California as a peninsula. Delisle was one of the first cartographers to correct the misconception of California as an island, his information based on the discoveries of Father Kino in 1698.

Delisle's precise drawing and presentation is further enhanced by the lovely title cartouche in the lower left corner. The face of a deity presides over a ring of symbols of war and abundance. Two idealized native figures flank the title, making symbolic reference to this new untouched country. Another, smaller cartouche in the upper left encases the scales of distance in French, Spanish, and English, an acknowledgment of the three major powers in the delineated area. Altogether a very handsome map and one that is a key document in the history of the mapping of America. $2,400

Maps from 18th century magazines:

The monthly news magazines, which appeared in Britain beginning in 1731, contained poetry, prose, and articles on events, fashions, personalities, and other items of the day. The eighteenth century English gentleman wanted to be kept well informed through fine visual images, as well as articles, about the latest activities in the developing colonies around the world. One of the most historically important features of these magazines, therefore, was the inclusion of prints and maps to accompany their articles. The West Indies islands were of considerable economic and strategic importance to the British in the eighteenth century, so it is thus not surprising that maps of the West Indies as a whole and of many of the separate islands appeared quite often in these journals. These are excellent records of the situation in the West Indies at the time.

Mount and Page: Jamaica
Richard Mount and Thomas Page. "A New & Correct Chart of the Island of Jamaica with the Bays, Harbours, Rocks, Soundings &c." Within the baroque title cartouche is the statement "Sold by T. Mount & T. Page on Tower Hill." From The English Pilot. The Fourth Book – West India Navigation. London, 1767-1789. 18 x 26 3/4 neat lines. Engraving. With a 1/2" margin added to right side. Hair margins on sides and full margins on top and bottom. Best census is Sellers and VanEe, item 1922 based on the atlases in the Library of Congress.

The English Pilot was an important British sea-atlas that remained in publication from 1671 to 1803. There were regular complaints from seamen that it was out of date for changes were slow to appear even as other publishers, such as Mount & Page, took over from John Seller who had started it in 1671. Despite complaints, the charts continued to sell because they were inexpensive and captains of small packets or other trading vessels could not afford better. The charts were really not always as bad as the sailors claimed and the maps of the Americas, being newly drawn and not based on the older charts used for much of Europe, were generally better than most. The charts from the Pilot were intended as working charts so there was at least a genuine effort to make them accurate. This map of Jamaica is quite accurate for its day. The island is clearly and relatively well mapped with anchorages and some profiles of inland elevations given. This map was issued just at the end of the French & Indian war at a time the British were consolidating their possessions in North America and the West Indies. It would have thus played an important role in the history of the British merchants and navy in the Americas from this time forward through the American Revolution. $900

Thomas Kitchin. "Carta del Golfo del Messico dell' Isole e Paesi adjacenti." From Storia d. America. Italy, 1777-1780? 12 1/4 x 18 3/4. Engraving. Folds, as issued, and some creasing near folds. Otherwise, excellent condition. DR

A map from William Robertson's popular History of America, one of the first scholarly histories written of the western hemisphere. Once the first edition appeared in 1777, it was almost immediately translated into numerous other languages, including Italian. This map comes from one of the early Italian editions. There is good detail throughout, including many settlements and political divisions. A note on the Texas coast indicates the spot that LaSalle landed on his ill-fated voyage with the legend, "Qui il Sig. de la Sale si stabili nel 1685." $625

Santini: Antilles
Gilles Robert de Vaugondy. "Les Grandes et Petites Isles Antilles, et les Isles Lucayes avec une partie de la Mer du Nord par le Sr. Robert." From Atlas Universel dressé sur les meilleures cartes modernes. Venice: P. Santini, 1779. Engraving. Original hand outline color. Slight printer's wrinkles, one ca. 5" long in upper left quadrant, stretching from Bahamas east, the other ca. 3" long from lower neat line to Leeward Islands. Wear, time toning and creases in margins, with 1 1/2" tear in upper right corner, and 3/8" diameter hole in left margin, both away from image. Light stain near top at right of center fold, to left of cartouche. Overall, very good condition.

A handsome Italian map of the Caribbean islands, with the southern tip of Florida, eastern Honduras and the northern Venezuela. This map was made by Santini for his Atlas Universel using information from Gilles Robert de Vaugondy's earlier map of the region.

Interestingly, the title cartouche in the upper right includes both prow and stern of a ship of the period, but these are disconnected. Also featured in the cartouche are exotic shells, fishing nets and putti blowing conflicting winds. The scale cartouche shows Italian miles, marine and French leagues. $950

Franz Ludwig Güssefeld after Bryon Edwards. "Charte von West Indien nach der grossen Charte des B. Edwards..." Weimar: Geograph. Instituts, 1795. Engraving. 17 x 24. Original outline hand color. Lined for preservation. Very good condition.

An excellent late eighteenth century map of the West Indies. The map was based on a large map issued in 1793 by Bryon Edwards, to accompany his History, Civil & Commercial of the British Colonies in the West Indies. Bryan was born in England, but became a wealthy plantation owner in Jamaica. He was a leading member of the colonial assembly of Jamaica, and after a few failed attempts became a member of Parliament in London in 1796. Bryan was a strong supporter of trade with America and of the slave trade, and very knowledgeable and concerned with the political situation in the West Indies. His map was one of the best when issued and this is a reduced copy from the Geographic Institute of Weimar. All the islands of the Caribbean are neatly presented, with careful topography, as are the coastal lands from the mouth of the Oranoco River to the Yucatan Peninsula. Coastal features are identified, as are major settlements throughout, and the political control of the different islands and territories is indicated by contrasting outline colors, explained in a key in the lower left. A fine late 18th century map. $850

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