Leen Helmink Antique Maps

Antique map of the Moluccas by Sanson

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Stock number: 19271

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Nicolas Sanson (biography)


De Molukkische Eilanden; Celebes, Giliolo.

First Published

Paris, 1652

This Edition

Amsterdam, 1653-1660


19.0 x 24.7 cms




This Item is Sold


De Molukkische Eilanden; Celebes, Giliolo, enz.
The Moluccan Islands Celebes, Gilolo, etc.

A very attractive mid-17th century quarto-sized map of the Moluccas including Celebes (Suawesi), Giololo (Halmahera), the Lesser Sunda Islands, Papua New Guinea and the spice-producing islands with enlarged insets of the Northern and Southern Moluccas.

Engraved and signed by Antoine de Winter of Amsterdam and compiled and published by the great French Cartographer Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667) in his 'Pocket Atlas of Asia' published in 1652. This example is from a Dutch edition of the atlas published between 1653-60.


Here in superb contemporary outline color lavishly heightened in gold to highlight the borders of countries, the major settlements, the equator, the title and ornamented cartouche, the scale bars, the compass rose as well as the longitude and latitude markings around the map and around the insets. A strong and even imprint of the copperplate. Very wide margins. A stunning collector's prize.

The gold highlighting was a rare feature of expensive deluxe versions of atlases that were produced for wealthy and important customers or royals and reached its zenith in Blaeu's lavish 'Atlas Maior' published in 1662.

The colouring and illumination of this map and the atlas it was in was most likely done by Dirk Janszoon van Santen, the most famous master illuminator of the Dutch golden age.

Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667)

Nicolas Sanson was the foremost French mapmaker of the period.

Sanson was born in Abbeville where as a young man he studied history, particularly of the ancient world, and it is said that he turned to cartography only as a means of illustrating his historical work. For this purpose he prepared a number of beautifully drawn maps, one of which, after his move to Paris, came to the attention of Louis XIII. In due course the King appointed him ‘Géographe Ordinaire du Roi', one of his duties being to tutor the King in geography.

In the preparation of his major atlas, Cartes Générales de Toutes les Parties du Monde, Sanson employed a number of engravers, one of whom, M. Tavernier, engraved important maps showing the Post Roads and River and Waterway system of France (1632–34) and a map of the British Isles (1640). In all, Sanson produced about 300 maps of which two of North America were particularly influential: Amerique Septentrionale (1650) and Le Canada ou Nouvelle France (1656), the first map to show all the Great Lakes. After Sanson's death the business was carried on by his two surviving sons and grandson, in partnership with A. H. Jaillot.

It is generally accepted that the great age of French cartography originated with the work of Nicolas Sanson but credit must go also to A. H. Jaillot and Pierre Duval for re-engraving his maps, many still unprinted at his death, and re-publishing them in face of strong competition from the Dutch, who continued to dominate the market until the end of the century.