Les Deux Poles Arctique ou Septentrional et Antartique ou Meridional.
A rare and iconic map the polar projections of the Arctic and Antarctic by Nicolas Sanson, one of the pre-eminent cartographers of the 17th Century. Sanson has been described as “the single most important French mapmaker of the 17th Century, whose modernistic approach to cartography would redefine commercial cartography over the next 50 years and signal the beginning of the end of Dutch domination of the commercial map trade.”
Sanson’s polar projections are of interest in that they provide a great overview of the limited knowledge that European cartographers still had of the arctic and antarctic regions in the early stages of polar explorations. Although the Southern pole is sparsely drawn, Sanson depicts a great landmass of Terre Magellanicque in what we know today to be Antartica. Sanson’s depiction of the Arctic is also of interest in that Greenland is still drawn as being attached to the North American continent with its incorrect delineation of Forbisher Strait at its Southern tip. That being said, Sanson incorporates greater scope and detail to the cartography of the Northern region of America in and around Hudson’s Bay but leaves Terre de Yezo or Iesso in the Pacific Northwest as essentially blanc. This Terre de Yezo or Iesso is a reference to the mythical landmass east of Japan that was first postulated in the mid 16th Century from Jesuit accounts returning from Japan. The spurious geography was given further credence in 1643 when Schaep and Gerritsz travelled to Northeast Asia and assumed that the Island of Iturup was located near or was part of the American continent.
It is important to note that both polar regions were of strategic interest for early explorers in that they provided hope for either a Southwest or Northwest passage to the Orient. and thus bypassing the Spanish monopoly in America.
(Sources: Postnikov, Falk, Exploring and Mapping Alaska…)