Amplissimae Regionis Mississipi Seu Provinciae Ludovicianae A R.P. Ludovico Hennepin Francisc Miss In America Septentrionali Anno 1687…
By: Johann Baptiste Homann
Date: 1720 (circa) Nuremberg
Dimensions: 19.25 x 22.75 inches (48.9 cm x 57.8 cm)
Johann Baptiste Homann made the focal point of this important map the Course of the Mississippi River, basing much of it on the reports of Louis Hennepin, the Franciscan missionary who explored the upper Mississippi and Great Lakes regions in the late 1600s, and who returned to Europe to write of his travels.
Commonly called the ‘Buffalo Map’ for its distinctive decorative elements depicting a stylized buffalo, this hand colored work is one of the most interesting and decorative regional maps of America from this period. Homann’s map covers much of the modern day United States from Canada and the Great Lakes to the Florida Keys, plus parts of New Mexico and Mexico. According to political conventions of the time this map is segmented into various zones including New Mexico (white) along the Rio de Norte (Rio Grande), Louisiana (yellow) covering a vast area including Texas, all five of the Great Lakes and both the upper and lower Mississippi River Valleys, Florida (red) covering most of the American southeast, the English Colonies (green) along the Atlantic seaboard, and Canada (pink) stretching across the top of the map north of the Great Lakes.
Homann’s map contains a wealth of information and minute detailing. Miniature vignettes such as indigenous peoples hunting buffalo with bows and arrows in wooded areas, notes and dates of various explorers’ routes from all ages, including de Soto’s, embellish and liven the map, as do mission settlements, American Indian villages, fortifications, and portages. Known forts and Indian Kingdoms (Royaume) are everywhere depicted. Florida is shown as an archipelago inhabited by anthropophagi (cannibals). The Mississippi is oddly projected, with the Ohio and several other rivers splitting to the east, and tracking near a vignette showing Indians hunting long horned buffalo. The western rivers, including the Missouri, are equally inaccurate.
The title cartouche in the upper left quadrant depicts Niagara Falls, with a large number of beavers in the foreground, a French soldier, an infant being blessed by Hennepin, and some allegorical illustrations. A second cartouche in the lower right quadrant depicts American Indians and a buffalo, with a cornucopia crowning the cartouche, and a large seabird resembling a pelican embellishing its lower edge. Homann’s map enjoyed a long production run and was extremely popular throughout Europe for its decorative inclusion of the American Buffalo and Niagara Falls, objects of fascination for many Europeans of the time.
Though this map was originally issued in only one edition, it was published in Homann's Neuer Atlas, the Atlas Major, and many other composite atlases well into the late 1700s, making specific instances of the map all but impossible to date with precision, thus most examples reference the original publication date, 1687, which occurs in the title cartouche. On Hennepin’s return to Paris he began writing his first book about the expedition’s travels. Though much of what he wrote was later debunked, he did provide a wealth of information and was one of the first Europeans to bring to the attention of the world two great waterfalls, Niagara Falls, with the most voluminous flow of any in North America, and the Saint Anthony Falls in what is now Minneapolis, the only waterfall on the Mississippi River.
Condition: This map is in C condition, with some soiling and damp staining. Interestingly, a former owner of the map has made notations in German on the verso, signing it with charming flourish in 1836.
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