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Blaeu's Carte à Figure of the Americas

SKU: 9656

Blaeu's Carte à Figure of the Americas

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  • Willem Janszoon Blaeu
  • A theory developed at the beginning of the 17th century that California was an island. The maker of this map, Willem Blaeu, resisted that idea and correctly showed it as a peninsula. His son Joannes was of the island persuasion, and both of their maps were issued concurrently in the 'Atlas Major'.

    Our map represents the extent of contemporary geographical knowledge. Before the French exploration of the interior there was limited European understanding of the Great Lakes or of the Mississippi. On the west coast Blaeu shows a large lake in New Mexico, surrounded by the seven legendary cities of Cibola, all derived from reports of early Spanish voyages; at the tip of South America, the Straits of Magellan are also shown. 

    The 'carte à figure' of the title refers to the eight costume vignettes in the border depicting indigenous inhabitants, including ‘the King and Queen of Florida’ and ‘the King of New England’; derived from various sources, including Theodore de Bry.

    The map is further decorated with nine town views, an inset of Greenland, and with ships and sea monsters in the oceans.  

    Condition & Materials

    Copper engraving, 41 x 55.5 cm, modern hand colour, pressed, French text on verso.


    Burden, Mapping of North America, 189, state 5