Jaillot North America ca. 1720


Alexis Hubert Jaillot after Nicholas Sanson.  “Amerique Septentrionale.”  Amsterdam: R. & J. Ottens, ca. 1720.  18 1/4 x 22 3/4.  Engraving.  Full original hand color.  Soft creases at centerfold and soft spot at left.  Else, very good condition.  McLaughlin California As An Island, 113, state 2.


A strikingly beautiful map of North America issued in the early eighteenth century, but with its roots in the late seventeenth.  The map was published by the Ottens brothers, from Amsterdam, from an earlier map by A.H. Jaillot, who had issued this rendering based on the cartography of Nicholas Sanson in 1694.  The map is an interesting combination of the scientific cartography of the period, introduced by Sanson in the middle of the seventeenth century, with the decorative extravagance of the Dutch cartographers.  Sanson’s map, which this map is based on, was the first to show all five Great Lakes, and this reflects Sanson’s concern to get as current information as was available.  Still, many geographic misconceptions were prevalent at the time, and these are well illustrated here.  Most noticeable is the delightful rendering of California as an island, but we can also find the legendary Cibola and Quivira depicted in the interior of the continent.  West of California is a large land of Jesso, to the north Sanson gives a strong hint at the existence of a northwest passage out of Hudson’s Bay, and in the northeast Sanson shows the alleged Frobishers Strait running through the tip of Greenland.  With its attractive cartouches, and curious mixture of accurate and illusionary geography, this is much a map of its time.