This is a remarkable large folio map by Vincenzo Maria Coronelli entitled America Settentrionale Colle Nuove Scoperte Sin All Anno 1688. It was published in the atlas Atlante Veneto in Venice in 1688. It is “one of the most influential maps of North America published in the late seventeenth century.” (Atlante veneto)
The map is based on Sanson’s 1669 map with the addition of mountain ranged and names of places. “It provided a major leap in the cartography of the day. The whole is aesthetically delightful, providing a perfect balance between the provision of scientific accuracy and beauty.” (Burden 643) The map was originally printed on two separate sheets and has now been carefully joined.
The map features a figural cartouche featuring scenes of gods blessing the era of European expansion and finding themselves in the New World. It was dedicated to Bishop F. Antonio Marsily, Archdeacon of the Cathedral of Bologna. It also features vignettes of Native American life (or what the Europeans believed of their life and culture) as well as real and imagined beasts. There is a scene of human sacrifice near Hudson’s bay, a large alligator in Louisiana, and others of Native Americans drying fish and burning wood.
Coronelli was a Venetian scholar and Minorite Friar. He became one of the most celebrated map and globe makers of his era. One of his most important works were the Marly Globes created for Louis XIV – the largest and most magnificent globes ever produced. Coronelli also founded the first geographical society: Academia Cosmografica degli Argonauti. He published two atlases (Atlante Veneto & Isolario) as well as the first encyclopedia arranged alphabetically.
There are several areas of importance featured on this map:
– The Great Lakes: The most accurate depiction to date gathered from the Quebec explorer Louis Jolliet and the French Jesuit Jacques Marquette and their voyage in 1673.
– The Mississippi Basin: Introduced discoveries from the French explorer Rene-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de la Salle’s on his 1679 expedition. This includes the very off placement of the mouth of the Mississippi River around 600 miles to the west of its actual location.
– The West: This was the area of the most significant changes to the known geography to this point, and was gathered mostly from Diego Dionisio de Penalosa Briceno y Berdugo’s manuscript. It added names to previously unrecorded places as well as divided the Rio Grande River into the Rio Norte and Rio Bravo.
– California as an Island: This map is perhaps the best example of the mistaken belief that California was an island. Explorers had believed it to be a peninsula thus far, but many Spanish voyages “confirmed” it was an island.