12mo [12.6 x 7.9 cm], 353-425 pp., 3 integral blanks (as issued).
HENNEPIN, Louis. Beschreibung der Landschaft Louisiana, welche auf Befehlt des Königs in Frankreich neulich gegne Sudwesten Neu-Frankreichs in America entdecket worden. Nuremberg, Verlag Andreas Otto, 1689. 12mo [12.6 x 7.9 cm], 1-352 pp., including title printed in red and black, and with 2 folding engraved maps. Bound in original stiff vellum, title and shelf-mark on spine, initials “F.F.F.P.T.” and the date 1693 stenciled on front cover, old ownership inscription on title, some foxing throughout text leaves, faint water stains on both maps, a genuine copy, very good.
Two seminal texts with maps on the exploration of the interior of North America issued together for the first time:
Very rare first German edition of Joliet and Marquette’s account of their discovery of the Upper Mississippi and its exploration to the Arkansas River in 1673, the first account of this important discovery and accordingly containing the first map to show the Mississippi River and to name Lake Michigan. Both the account and map are translations from their first appearance in the Découverte de quelques pays et nations de l’Amerique septentrionale which appeared previously in Thévenot’s Recueil de Voyages (1681), the extremely rare duodecimo “supplement” to Thévenot’s world-wide voyage anthology. While the importance of the first edition of the Joliet/Marquette account in the Thevenot is recognized and properly appreciated in Americana collections sufficiently fortunate to procure a copy (“top rank on the subject of early French activities in the region” [Howes R-156], cf. Streeter I.101 & Church 672), the importance of the present edition has gone comparatively unnoticed.
The Joliet/Marquette account is preceded here by the first German edition of Hennepin’s Description de la Louisiane Nouvellement Decouverte (1683), his most important work, which contains the first printed account of La Salle’s travels and discoveries in the upper Mississippi and an important description of the Sioux. As with the Marquette and Joliet above, the narrative is accompanied by a re-engraving— evidently the first—of the “Carte de la Nouvelle France,” the first map to name Louisiana. It should be noted that Hennepin’s text and map are not included in the French edition of the Thévenot.
The discovery of the Mississippi ranks as one of the greatest geographical discoveries in history: It multiplied tenfold the known size of a continent and increased its potential for exploration and development. Its dissemination was accordingly a matter of pan-European interest, as were all major discoveries of this magnitude, and was probably heightened in the case at hand by the political alliance between Germany and France against England during the 1680s, and an implicit expectation that Germany might share in its bounty.
* Alden 684/94; JCB (1675-1700) p. 207; Sabin 31, 365 (erroneous); Harrisse, Nouvelle France 163; Howes 415 (mention); Greenly, A selective bibliography of works relating to Michigan.