Carte d'une partie de l'Ocean Arctique et de l'Amérique Septentrionale.
Published 1821, Paris
Size: 17.5" X 13"
A rare map of the arctic that was published in Tome XI of Nouvelles Annales des Voyages de la Géographie et de l’Histoire published by J.B.B. Eyriès & Malte-Brun in 1821. The map is of interest because of the depictions of the different polar routes used by explorers, both real and imagined, to the arctic to discover the Northwest Passage. The map includes the mythical routes taken by Lorenzo Madonado in 1588, Captain Bernarda in 1640, Admiral de Fonte in 1640, and Captain Alexander Cluny in 1745. However, to balance these apocryphal journeys Lapie also includes Samuel Hearnes’ route to the Copper Mine River 1771 and the discovery by Alexander MacKenzie of the river to the polar sea that now bears his name. Ironically, both of these latter discoveries, in essence ,refuted the claims of an internal river system that might have been used for a Northwest passage.
It should be noted that although the claims by the likes of Madonato Bernarda, De Fonte and Cluny were spurious at best, they were, nevertheless, important components of the dream that some had of finding the Northwest Passage. These claims, thus would spur others, such as Hearnes and Mackenzie to find these fabled routes and thus provide a more detailed survey of one of the earth’s harshest environments.
It should also be mentioned that some of these mythical claims had real political implications. For example, Madonado journey in 1588 through the Northwest Passage via the Davis Strait to the Pacific and then back again to return to Spain were initially recounted in his Relacion to King Philip III of Spain in 1609. Although his writings were of little concern during his lifetime, Philippe Buache revived interest into his travels in 1790. And as such, it is argued that Buache’s claims reignited Spanish interest in the area that would see Alexadro Malaspina sent to the region in 1791 in hopes of finding this long lost route that would possibly compete with British claims to the region.
The map also includes annotations indicating that the polar sea most likely included many islands not depicted and that the possibly existed that Greenland was linked to these arctic lands. It is also interesting to note that the abandoned Fort Astoria in the Pacific Northwest is still present.
Although this map does sometimes come on the market, it is rare to find it with Tome XI of the Nouvelles Annales as is the case with the present example.