Item #10398 Norumbega Et Virginia. C. WYTFLIET.

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One of the Earliest Maps Focusing on the Northeast & Virginia
[Louvain, 1597/?]

Norumbega Et Virginia.

9 x 11 1/2 inches. Tape residue in corners not affecting engraved surface, some weakening of impression, else very good.

This very early map reveals the state of geographic knowledge of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions at the time of their initial colonization. "A superbly executed engraving, [the map] depicts the northeastern American coastline as it was perceived by European geographers one hundred years after the discovery of the New World. [It] marks the approximate high point in the toponymic evolution of Norumbega that began as a generic place name for all of North America and that ended up relegated to obscurity as the name for the Penobscot River in Maine" (New England Prospect).

This was the first map to prominently display the place name Virginia in its title. At the time,  “Virginia” referred to the entire Middle Atlantic region. After the founding of Jamestown and with the appearance of Smith’s map of Virginia, the area to which the place name applied would gradually contract. The Outer Banks area of the Carolinas shows evidence of knowledge gleaned from the doomed Roanoke settlement with the word “Croatoan” along side one of the barrier islands. This was the word that was carved into a tree in the area of the vanished settlement.

The map unmistakably indicates how dimly known the Northeast was just prior to the launching of major colonies in the area. Prominent geographic features of the Northeast, such as Long Island and Cape Cod, don’t appear at all on the map. Moreover, as were nearly all printed maps at the time, this work was regressive in a most important sense. New York Harbor, which had appeared on some printed maps as early the mid-16th century, is now nowhere to be found. With no systematic exploration of this area after Verrazano’s visit in 1524 for the remainder of the century, the New York area essentially faded from the map. This example of the map is a second state without the date.

* Burden 103, state 2; Benes, P. New England Prospect no. 1; Morrison et al, On the Map Fig. 4; Schwartz, Mapping of America, pl. 40, p. 80; Danforth, S. The Land of Norumbega, no. 49.


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