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Home > Exhibits > Septentrionalis Map Exhibit

Septentrionalis Map Exhibit

Exhibit Sign: Maps of North American from the Baxter Map Collection

 

Septentrion

The term septentrion (and its various forms) refers to the northern regions. This term comes from the Latin meaning the “seven plow oxen” referring to the seven principal stars of Ursa Major (the Big Dipper), of which Polaris (the North star) is one. From that root it was generalized and used in cartography to signify the northerly direction.


Map published by Jan Jansson c. 1636

Publisher: Jan Jansson c. 1636

This captivating map of North America shows California as an island. It is richly embellished with a variety of animals throughout the interior, with sailing ships and sea monsters in the oceans. The map is a careful compilation from various sources and represents the current state of cartographic knowledge at that time. there is a single "Lac des Iroguois" in the Great Lakes region. A few place names from John Smith's 1616 map appear in "Nova Anglia." The title cartouche features several Native Americans, and the imprint cartouche features two mermaids. This was the first atlas map to show North America only.

 

Map published by Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Americea Nova Tabula c. 1640

Publisher: Willem Janszoon Blaeu, Americea Nova Tabula c. 1640

First published in 1617 by probably the greatest Dutch cartographer of all time, this is one of only a few maps by him relating to North American. This was the standard map of America used by the Blaeu firm throughout the 17th century. The appeal of this map stems from its illustrations of native inhabitants and towns of Central and South America. The geography of North America is typical for this period, showing much of the 16th century exploration as well as Henry Hudson's discoveries in the early 17th century. Made before much of the French exploration of the interior, there is little knowledge of the Great Lakes and none of the Mississippi River. In the west, California is shown as a peninsula, in contrast to most other cartographers of this period who depict it as an island.


Map Publisher: Iusto Danckers, Novi Belgii: Novaeque Angliae Nec Non Partis Virginiae Tabula c. 1685

Publisher: Iusto Danckers, Novi Belgii: Novaeque Angliae Nec Non Partis Virginiae Tabula c. 1685

Danckers' circa 1685 publication was his second issue of this very important Claus Visscher map of New York and New England. With its inset drawing of New York, the original 1656 map gave Europeans their first view of New Amsterdam in America just three decades after the Dutch began to settle Manhattan in earnest in 1625. This map was used as a "recruiting" poster to attract Dutch colonists to bolster Holland's claims to the region by depicting the English-dominated regions of New England and New York as predominantly Dutch.

 

Publisher: Guillaume D'Isle, L'Amerique Septentrionale 1700

Publisher: Guillaume D'Isle, L'Amerique Septentrionale 1700

Extending from South America to Baffin Bay, it is the first printed map to show the Sargasso Sea. In the Pacific are shown the routes of Cortez, Gatean, Drake, Madana and Olivier. The Great Lakes are well defined with French forts noted. The English settlements are confined east of the Alleghenies, and the Spanish forts are clustered around Santa Fe. The Mississippi River valley is well developed with recent French settlements. New England ends at the River and Fort "de Kinibeki". Eastern Maine is part of Acadia. The map shows select towns, forts, Indian villages and tribal territory.

 

Map Publisher: I. Covens & C. Mortier, L'Amerique Septentrionale c. 1708

Publisher: I. Covens & C. Mortier, L'Amerique Septentrionale c. 1708

This is Cornelius Mortier's and Johannes Covens' re-engraved and nearly identical version of D'Isle's map of North America. Cornelius was the son of Pieter Mortier, a publisher in Amsterdam. He, upon his father's death, took over the business and in 1721 went into partnership with his brother-in-law Johannes covens. Their firm became one of the most important map publishing houses in Holland.

 

Map Publisher: Johann Baptist Homann, Nova Anglia: Septentrionali Americae c. 1720

Publisher: Johann Baptist Homann, Nova Anglia: Septentrionali Americae c. 1720

This fascinating map depicts all of "Nova Anglia" (New England), most of "Nieuw Nederland" (now New York), and "Western and Eastern New Jarsey" (New Jersey). German interest in North America and the prospect of colonization was very high during this period. This detailed map was made with the intention of educating would be immigrants on what to expect in New England. There are several errors in geography - Cape cod is shows as an island, and Boston Harbor is extremely large. The fictitious "Norumbeag" (on maps of the region since the very earliest maps) is placed above the large "Penebrock" (Penobscot) Bay. Norumbega was supposedly a rich native city, with inhabitants who traded in furs of all sorts. Various Indian tribes are identified and coastal water depths are shown by soundings. The cartouche shows a European and an Indian with trade goods and pelts. This was considered the standard German map of this region during much of the 18th century.

 

Map Publisher: Johann Baptist Homann, Dominia Anglorum in America Septentrionali c. 1740

Publisher: Johann Baptist Homann, Dominia Anglorum in America Septentrionali c. 1740

This sheet includes four maps covering New Foundland, new England, Virginia and Carolina/Florida. Although drawn to different scales, the panels display the coast of North America from St. Laurence Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. Massachusetts extends to the Casco River. Eastern Maine, including Mount desert and Machias, and eastern Canada are all part of New Scotland.

 

Map Publisher: Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, America Septentrionalis c. 1756

Publisher: Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville, America Septentrionalis c. 1756

Although done by a noted French cartographer, this map was published in Germany with German text. While all thirteen original colonies are depicted, the boundaries of many were not yet defined to their present configuration. new Hampshire extends north to the St. Lawrence River and surrounds a much reduced province of Maine. Also of note are the many native tribes located throughout.


Map Publisher: Georg Christoph Kilian, America Septentrionalis oder Mitternachtiger Thiel von America 1764

Publisher: Georg Christoph Kilian, America Septentrionalis oder Mitternachtiger Thiel von America 1764

This map, published in Augsburg, Germany, shows the British colonies just after the French and Indian War. Virginia and South Carolina are shown with the Mississippi River as their westernmost boundary. North Carolina is shown stretching from the Atlantic coast to beyond the Mississippi. Land west of the Mississippi is titled "Louisiana" and extends from the Gulf of Mexico to the Canadian border. Again, a much smaller Maine appears to be surrounded by New Hampshire.


Publisher: Matthieu Albert Lotter, Carte Nouvelle de l'Amerique Angloise c. 1776

Publisher: Matthieu Albert Lotter, Carte Nouvelle de l'Amerique Angloise c. 1776

This engraving of the colonies of America shows primitive configurations from "Maine" as it reached from the Atlantic to the St. Lawrence, but bounded only by the Kennebec and Penobscot Rivers, down to a distorted sliver of Georgia.

About the Baxter Map Collection

 

 

The noted antiquarian, James Phinney Baxter of Portland, Maine, commissioned copies of many historical maps located in Great Britain and Europe in the late 19th century. He later donated this collection of approximately ninety maps to the State of Maine. These copies now reside among the holdings of the Maine State Archives.

This exhibition takes from the Baxter collection examples of early maps of North America dating from the late 17th century through the American Revolutionary period.

photo of James Phinney Baxter

James Phinney Baxter

 

Copies of these images, as well as other maps, photographs and documents, are available through our on-line store. If there is a subject that you are interested in and do not see listed, contact either Peter Mallow or Jeff Brown.