“INSULAE AMERICANAE…” Amsterdam: Nicholas Visscher, c. 1670. Engraved map with hand-coloring. Reference: Lawery 179; Portinaro 82). (Image: 18x22’’)
This 17th century decorative map (with elaborate title cartouches and ships at sea) depicts the region from Cape May and Lake Erie, south to the Equator, and including all the West Indies.
The Mississippi Valley appears as a mystery, and Cape Canaveral, Florida appears as a peninsula.
Also shown in the region of “French Florida” is the mythical great lake “with the direction of the flow of the river May to the northwest of its mouth” which first appeared on Hondius’ 1606 map of Virginia & Florida (creating geographical misconceptions which lasted nearly 150 years).
The strategic area of northern South America is well detailed. This area was the commercial hub of the 17th century Spanish America, since the bullion treasures of the Andes were funneled back to Europe via the harbors of Porto Bello and Cartagena. (Ref: Nebenzahl, The Compass, #10-39 illustrated).