Floridae Americae Provinciae Recens & exactissima descriptio. Southeast/ Florida/ Cuba., J./ DE BRY LE MOYNE, T.
[Frankfurt, 1591].

Floridae Americae Provinciae Recens & exactissima descriptio.

14 1/2 x 17 5/8 inches. Superb hand color, heightened with gold. Excellent condition.

Fine example of this cornerstone map of Florida and the Southeast, with a bold impression and good margins. According to Baxter, this is “the most remarkable and important map, which has been preserved from sixteenth century maps, of that part of the East Coast which lies between Cape Hatteras and Cape Florida….  [Its] authority and influence… reach[es] as far as the latter half of the seventeenth century. (Lowery, p. 90.) [It] is sometimes considered the most important Florida map” (An Annotated Checklist of Florida Maps, p. 109).

What makes this map particularly exciting, and also unusual for a work of this period, is that it was largely based on actual observation or, at the least, on first-hand sources.  The cartographer, Jacques Le Moyne, was an artist who accompanied a short-lived French colonial enterprise in the southeast.  Settlements were established on Parris Island in South Carolina in 1562 and at the head of St. John’s River in northern Florida in 1564.  From these bases, explorations were conducted and recorded by Le Moyne.  Thus it can be said that on this map is some of the earliest mapping of the Georgia and South Carolina coastline based on direct observation. 

The interior areas of the map were on the other hand based on Indian reports and rumor.  Ironically, it was many of these details that were longest lived on subsequent maps.  Especially conspicuous on later maps is the lake in the north-center with the falls emptying into it.  Below it is an enticing note, which reads in translation: “In this lake the natives find grains of silver.”  Likewise, the mountains above it are said to contain gold, silver and copper.  Above this is a small portion of what appears to be a very large body of water, which most likely represents the Pacific Ocean as derived from Verrazano.  The explorer believed that the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were separated by a narrow isthmus in the area of present-day North Carolina.

After the French colonies were wiped out by the Spanish, Le Moyne made his way to London with his drawings; these included several of Indian life in addition to the one that served as the model for this map.  In 1588, the German engraver and publisher, Theodore De Bry, purchased the drawings from Le Moyne’s widow and produced engravings of them for inclusion in a series of works on the Americas called the Grands voyages.   In so doing, De Bry rescued for posterity some of the earliest depictions we have of the Southeast and its inhabitants.  Only a single one of Le Moyne’s original drawings survives; it is in the collection of the New York Public Library.  Richly colored, it is of astonishing beauty.

Burden 79; Cumming, Skelton, Quinn The Discovery of North America, caption for no. 198, p. 174, illus. p. 175; Cumming, The Southeast in Early Maps pp. 13-18, no. 14; Schwartz/Ehrenberg, Mapping of America, p. 82; Baxter, An Annotated Checklist of Florida Maps, in Journal of the Historical Assoc. of S. Florida, 1941.

Price: $16,000.00

Status: On Hold