Carte de la Californie et des Pays Nord-Ouest separes de l'Asie par le détroit d'antan...

Carte de la Californie et des Pays Nord-Ouest separes de l'Asie par le détroit d'antan...



Published 1772, Paris

Size: 12" X 15"


A very interesting pair of rare maps of the Pacific Northwest of America from the Strait of Anian to the Baja region of California.  The composite map was published as a single sheet in the 10 part series of maps created by Robert de Vaugondy in his supplement Receuil de 10 cartes traitant particulierement de l’Amérique du Nord to Denis Diderot’s Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers examining the existence of a Northwest Passage.  It has been argued that the supplement was one of the first studies of comparative cartography.
The two part map is actually a composite of two earlier maps by Claes Janszoon Visscher.  The larger of the two being a section of Visscher’s 1612 map of America derived from Mercator and the second inset being from Pierre Plantius Mappemonde published by Visscher in 1641.
The map offers differing depictions of the Pacific Northwest coastline that were of interest to explorers intent on finding the fabled Northwest Passage.  The Northwest Passage was of particular interest to European explorers as it offered a route through North America to reach the Pacific ocean and Asia.  In fact, the smaller inset shows in greater detail the possibility of a Northwest Passage through the Strait of Anian in the upper reaches of North America.
It is also important to note that  the speculative cartography associated with the Pacific Northwest of America and the fabled Northwest Passage, of which, this composite map is a great example, would finally be put to rest following the expedition by James Cook in 1778 and confirmed by George Vancouver’s landmark surveys of the North American coast in 1791-95. 
 Finally, it should be underlined that Cook’s expeditions along the western coast of America in search of the Northwest passage would in effect be the first time that an English explorer would visit these shores since the claims made to New Albion by Sir Francis Drake in 1578 and depicted on the larger Visscher map and being located North of California.
Vaugondy’s composite map is thus of interest to contemporary collectors as it provides a fascinating look into some of the differing depictions of a changing world view that navigators and cartographers alike used to help in their understanding of the times in which they lived.