Virginiae Item et Floridae Americae Provinciarum, nova Descriptio.
GERARD MERCATOR/JODOCUS HONDIUS
A stunning copy of Gerard Mercator’s rare map of the American Southeast stretching from the Spanish Colony of S. Augustine to what would become the future sight of the English colony located at Chesapeake Bay. This rare map was published in Jocodus Hondius’ Gerardi Mercatoris Atlas sive Cosmograhicae beginning in 1606. Although no changes occurred to the plate, we can discern from the text on the verso that this present example came from the 1630 edition of Hondias’ Atlas.
It has been argued that this map is a composite of Theodore De Bry’s maps of John White’s Americae pars , Nunc Virginia of 1590 and Jacques Le Moyne’s Floridae Americae Provinciae published in1591. It is of interest that the very next year in which this map was published in 1606, that the Virginia Company was founded after petitioning King James I for a charter to establish the first English colony of Jamestown near Chesapeake Bay.
Although the map would go on to be a popular depiction of the region, the cartography would soon be improved by the continued colonization of the area and the thirst for discovery. However, it has been argued that due to the success of the Hondius’ Atlas, that certain cartographic errors such as the depictions relating to the interior lakes and rivers of Florida, and especially as it pertains to Lacus aqua dulcis were allowed to persist.
That being said, Mercator’s map is also one of the first to depict the important Appalachians Mountains hereto referred to as Apalatcy Montes aurifiri. Strangely, a major waterfall is drawn flowing from this mountain range, which some have contended might have been a reference to native accounts of Niagara Falls.
However, it is the artistry of this rare map which makes it such a wonderful addition to any collection of early American cartography. Sailing ships, fishing canoes, sea monsters, indigenous fauna, aboriginal villages, natives in regal attire and an elaborate WindRose enhances the overall depiction. It remains to this day a work of art and artistry.
(Sources: Burden 151. Geographicus)