Lovely 1784 map of the United States by Brion de la Tour

Sr. Brion de la Tour, CARTE DES ETATS-UNIS D’AMERIQUE, et DU COURS DU MISSISSIPI; rédige d’apres différentes Cartes et Relations Anglaises, et les operations de la derniere Guerre avec LES NOUVELLE LIMITES GENERALES fixes par les articles préliminaires de paix…Paris: Esnauts et Rapilly, 1784.
Engraving and etching on laid paper, 20”h x 27 5/8”w at neat line plus margins, original wash and outline color to map, though cartouche possibly with later color.
$6,750

A lovely old-color example of one of the earliest maps to name the United States, indicate its borders per the Treaty of Paris, and depict the Stars and Stripes.

Per the subtitle, Brion de la Tour compiled the map from various English maps and other sources, as well as the boundaries set by the Treaty of Paris, which concluded the Revolutionary War and established American independence. He used as his base map a later state of Mitchell’s Map of the British and French Dominions in North America, which not coincidentally was the most important map used in the Treaty negotiations and the one on which the boundaries of the United States were drawn. The most obvious features marking the map as a Mitchell derivative are the aggressive borders of Pennsylvania (at the expense of New York); Virginia, the Carolinas and Georgia extending west to the Mississippi; the Mississippi itself extending far to the north and west; and the characteristic distortions of Lakes Huron and Superior. Major departures from Mitchell’s map include the treatment of Lakes Ontario and Erie, along with the delineation of a massive tract extending south of the Great Lakes and west to the Mississippi River “ceded to the United States by the Treaty of September 30, 1782.”

De la Tour generally followed Mitchell in locating dozens of forts and hundreds of Indian peoples and towns throughout the map. He also duplicates Mitchell’s annotations along the Mississippi, including mentions of French explorations and discoveries as well as the river’s still-unknown source. One of the more intriguing features is the name “Indiana” applied to a large tract in what is now West Virginia. The area, some 5000 square miles in all, had in 1768 been granted by the Iroquois Confederation to a Philadelphia trading company in compensation for a shipment of stolen goods. The tract was also claimed by the state of Virginia, but this did not prevent it from being named “Indiana” and sold on to the Indiana Land Company in 1776. However the Company failed in its attempts to convince the United States government to nullify the Virginia claim, and by 1800 that state exercised full jurisdiction over the tract.

Surrounding the map are other features of interest: A numeric legend at upper right identifies 18 northeastern forts not named on the map due to lack of space. A table at lower left lists the population by state, “including subject Indians and Negroes,” for a total of nearly 3.1 million persons, along with an odd note that Google Translate renders as “It is claimed that the waters of Mississippi have, like those of the Ganges, this property, that it can bathe there while sweat, without being inconvenient.” The attractive cartouche features a laurel branch surmounted by a liberty cap and, in a celebration of Franco-American amity, the flags of both nations draped over the implements of war.

Offered here is an impression of the first state of the map, bearing the imprint of publishers Esnauts & Rapilly.  Though separately published, this example bears a centerfold and other signs it was bound at one time into a composite atlas. The second state of the map, encountered rather more frequently, bears instead the imprint of publisher Louis Desnos.

References
Ashley Baynton-Williams, “Early Maps of the United States,” #52, at MapForum.com, issue 1. Phillips, Maps of America, p. 864. Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 63. Sellers & Van Ee, Maps and Charts of North American and the West Indies, #746.

Condition

Minor spotting and a bit of staining in upper margins, but very good.