Precious and highly sought-after first edition of the famous French atlas by Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667) dedicated to America, printed for the first time in 1657 and analyzed in “En Français dans le texte” (n°98).
Sabin, XVII, 76708.
It is dedicated to “Monsieur Foucquet, conseiller du Roy” Louis XIV.
The delimitations of the 15 maps have been colored at the time.
“The America Atlas is the last of the four 4to treatises Sanson edited on his own. It was published a year after the one on Africa and is, as this latter, dedicated to Fouquet because, Sanson says, ‘Africa has found itself so well after the protection it received from you’. There are fifteen maps: seven for North America, and eight for South America. Only the two general maps of North and South are engraved by Abraham Peyrounin. The other maps are from another anonymous hand.
As the atlases of Asia, Africa and Europe, the work was reprinted in 1662 (ed. B). Then it was altered twice. There is indeed a third edition (Ed. C), in which the maps, which date has been engraved, bear Pierre Mariette’s address; the title indicates the same address, but “at the author”. In the fourth edition (ed. D), the text has been recomposed and enlarged”.
“Important work for the ancient cartography of America: Canada, Florida, Mexico, California, Guatemala, Guyana, Amazonia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, etc.” (Chadenat, n°6422).
The 15 maps of the American continent contain:-L’Americque septentrionale,
-Le Canada, ou Nouvelle-France,
-Audience de Mexico,
-Audience de Guadalajara, Nouveau Mexique, Californie,
-Audience de Guatimala,
-Les Isles Antilles, &c entre lesquelles sont les Lucayes et les Caribes,
-Terre Ferme, Nouveau roy[au]me de Grenade,
-Guiane divisée en Guiane, et Caribane,
-Le Perou et le cours de la Riv[ie]re Amazone,
-Le Chili Tiré de Alf[onse] de Ovalle de la C[ompagnie] de I(esus]
-Le Bresil, dont la coste est possedée par les Portugais, et divisée en quatorze capitaineries. Le milieu du pays est habité par un tres grand nombre de peuples la plus part incogneus, et dont les positions sont fort incertaines,
-Le Paraguay subdivisé en ses principales parties, suivant les dernieres rela[ti]ons,
-Destroit de Magellan, Terre, et Isles Magellanicques.
« En Français dans le texte », Mireille Pastoureau, n°98:
“We have seen how was created, at the end of the 16th century, the first national French atlas, the thin and incomplete Théâtre François by Maurice Bouguereau. More than fifty years passed before it was possible for a geographer and for a Parisian engravings’ editor to see through successfully the most ambitious project of a first worldwide French atlas.
This atlas, entitled Cartes générales de toutes les parties du monde, was the fruit of the collaboration between a man of science and an image producer. The first was Nicolas Sanson, from d'Abbeville. His precocious vocation for the learned geography, completed on a technical level by a few years as an engineer of the fortifications in Picardie made him a relatively complete cartographer. He was noticed by a Parisian enterprising engravings editor, Melchior Tavernier, who, as his father Gabriel, had a taste for geography. Remained in touch with the powerful Flemish and Dutch maps and atlases editors of whom he sold the impressions in Paris, Tavernier was also looking for French authors able to compete with them and to realize for him original maps. The collaboration between N. Sanson and M. Tavernier lasted from around 1632 to 1644, when Tavernier stopped his commercial activities and sold his trade to Pierre Ier Mariette. The latter was an already well-established engraving editor, but less specialized in geography than Tavernier. […] Realizing an atlas offered huge perks: consecration for the cartographer who rose to the level of the greatest ones and ensured himself to be in most libraries; fruitful profit for the editor who sold more quantities of merchandises at the time. Besides let’s not forget the intellectual advantage of a company that offered to the French people a representation of the world made just for him; better than any other, it reflected him particular interests, as military as diplomatic, commercial and missionary, and it directly answered to his geographical and historical questions of the moment.”
Nicolas I Sanson edited alone the 4to atlases of the four continents: Europe, which is his son Nicolas II’s work, in 1647, Asia in 1652, Africa in 1656 and America in 1657. These atlases were broadcast thanks to the foreign editions they were the object of and that gathered the four works under the general title of Description de tout l’univers.
These atlases, and in particular the one dedicated to America, remained “for almost half a century the ‘image of the world’ French society had. On this account, and because of its pioneering character, it deserved to figure here.” (Mireille Pastoureau, En Français dans le texte).
A precious copy of this first “sought-after” edition (Leclerc 526) preserved in its contemporary calf binding.