Michigan State University

Michigan With No Thumb

Kathleen Weessies

Carte Nouvelle de l'Amerique Angloise Contenant

This map depicts Michigan oddly with no thumb and with a range of mountains extending down to Florida.  It carefully marks waterway portages that link the Great Lakes with the Mississippi river system and points out several mines including one of copper at present day Chicago. Everything west of the Mississippi is a complete blank.

The map is based an interesting amalgam of source material.  Dutch mapmaker Corneille Mortier closely modeled it on English bookseller Robert Morden’s 1695 map of the American colonies.  The English colonies, therefore have good detail, and it includes an inset plan of Boston Harbor.  The Great Lakes portion of the map, however, was based on outdated French intelligence from Nicolas Sanson.  

This map was first published in 1700 but was reprinted through the 1730’s.  Mortier’s business partner Johannes (Jean) Covens is noted in the title which indicates it was printed after 1721 which is when their partnership formed. 

The full map may be seen here: https://lib.msu.edu/branches/map/MSU-Scanned/North-America/100-c-A-1721-Mortier/

Map citation:

Carte nouvelle de l'Amerique Angloise Contenant   la virginie mary-land, caroline, pensylvania nouvelle iorck, n iarsey….par le sieur s a amsterdam chez jean covens et corneille mortier avec privelege de nos signeurs les etats. Published in Amsterdam, 1721-1733.

This map was a generous gift of Ron Dietz.  It will be on display in the MSU Map Library the week of October 22, 2018.


The Southeast in Early Maps. By William Patterson Cumming. Published in Chapel Hill, NC by University of North Carolina Press in 1998.

Covens & Mortier: A map publishing house in Amsterdam, 1685-1866. By Marco van Egmond. Published in Houten by Hes & De Graaf in 2009.

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