Herman Moll; c1654-1732.
A noted dutch engraver of german descent, Moll emigrated
from Holland, and set shop in London around 1680. By the turn
of the century, he had achieved prominence in the map publishing
business thanks to a tireless production of atlas volumes,
geography books, decorative maps and miniature maps, …all
of distinguished quality.
He is often credited for being the first mapmaker to use the
London meridian as a universal longitude reference.
His “new and exact map of the dominions of the King
of Great Britain on ye continent of north America” (also
known as the “Beaver map”) first issued in 1715,
was a basis for the british to counterclaim the French territorial
designs after the spanish succession war (1702-1713).
He was often copied by other publishers (of which he was very
conscious). But, as was customary at that time, he also made
good use of the works produced by his peers.
Among his noted productions: “Atlas Manuale” in
1709, “Atlas Geographicus” in 1711, “The
world described” in 1719-1736, “A new description
of England and Wales” in 1724 in collaboration with
T&J Bowles, reissued under various titles in 1726, 1728,
1739, 1747, 1753; and the 1727 “Atlas minor”.
Brasil, divided into its captainships
This small (7 ¼” X 6 ¼”) map,
probably printed for the 1723 re-issue of the “Atlas
Manuale”, is directly derived from the seminal 1656
Sanson’s “Le Bresil dont la coste est possedee
par les portugais et divisee en quatorze capitanieries”.
It shows that at that time the portuguese colonial administration
was still based on the quasi hereditary system of regional
captainships. Fourteen in total (from the north: Para, Maragnan,
Siara, Rio Grande, Paraiba, Tamaraca, Pernambuco, Seregipe,
Bahia (de todos os santos), Isleos, Porto Seguro, Spiritu
Santo, Rio de Janeiro, Santo Vincente); all still contained
east of the famed Tordesillas line (re: treaty of Tordesillas
in 1494, when pope Alexander VI allocated to Portugal all
new lands discovered east of a line located 370 leagues west
of the Cabo Verde Islands*).
The fifteenth area: the Amazon basin is left pretty much devoid
Notice that the longitudes are given east of the Ferro island,
as it was customary at Sanson’s time.
No text on verso.
* Given the state of the art at that time, there was no way to measure with any degree of precision the actual position of that line. Only after reliable timepieces (the1735 James Harrison “chronometer”) could be embarked, would this be do-able. However, both spaniards and portuguese managed to cope well with the vagueness of the treaty requirement.