2010/11 Winter Catalogue, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2010/11 Winter Catalogue > 16. RARE CASSINI MAP of OLD and NEW MEXICO


Giovanni Maria Cassini. “La Parte Occidentale Dell’Antico, E Nuovo Messico . . ” [The Western Part of Old and New Mexico] (Presso la Calcografia Camerale, Rome: 1798). Published in Nuovo atlante geografico universale. Etching. 18 7/8 x 13 1/2" to border. Sheet: 22 7/8 x 16 3/4." Excellent.

Price: SOLD.

Giovanni Maria Cassini (1745–c.1824) was an important engraver and cartographer who worked in Rome. From 1792 to 1801, he published the atlas Nuovo Atlante Geografico Universale. Due to its limited success, few atlases were actually printed, making maps such as this a rare offering.

The present map by Cassini shows the western part of New Spain, which at the time included California, Arizona, New Mexico, part of Texas, as well as Baja California and Mexico. Inland details extend north as far as Taos (NM), following the Rio Grande, and include the many villages, towns and missions of New Spain. The locations of some Native American tribes are also given, including the Yuma, Bagiopa, Cocomaricopa, Chouma[n], and Apache. On the west coast, San Diego, Santa Catarina (Catalina), San Petro (Pedro), and the Channel Islands are shown, as well as an inlet that may be San Francisco Bay, here labeled “S. Carlos.” The marvelous vignette below the map title appears to be a rather fanciful imagining of New World aborigines.

Giovanni Maria Cassini’s Nuovo atlante geografico universale included 57 maps engraved by Cassini himself. His first known work dealing with the New World was a map called L’America, published in 1788. From 1790 to 1792, Cassini created gores for terrestial and celestial globes, which are still admired for the quality of their detail today. In fact Cassini’s celestial maps have recently been applied in virtual reality (David Rumsey Historical Map Collection in Second Life).

The detail of the present map provides a wonderful study of the settlement of the Southwest and Mexico in the eighteenth century.

Refs.: Lowery & Phillips, Descriptive List of Maps of Spanish Possessions in the United States, (1912), p. 438; Phillips, Atlases, no. 670; Tooley’s, p. 243.

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