Sanson's Asia
By SANSON, Nicolas , 1650

Asie Par N. Sanson d’Abbeville Geog. du Roy

Asia Continent of Asia
  • Author: SANSON, Nicolas
  • Publication place: A Paris
  • Publisher: Chez l'Auteur Et chez P. Mariette rue S. Iacques a l'Esperance
  • Publication date: 1650.
  • Physical description: Hand-coloured engraved map.
  • Dimensions: 552 by 770mm. (21.75 by 30.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 15803


Sanson’s map of ‘modern’ Asia.

The cartography is almost identical to Sanson’s map of ‘ancient’ Asia issued in the same year. The place names on this map, however, reflect contemporary toponymy.

It differs from Sanson’s ‘ancient’ map, however, in its treatment of North America. The passage between Asia and North America, unmarked in the ‘ancient map’, is here labelled “Destroit d’Anian”. The mythical kingdoms of Anian (taken from the writings of Marco Polo) and Quivira, as well as New England and Sierra Nevada, are shown on the American coast. Interestingly, Sanson’s map of North America, also produced in the same year, does not have a northwestern coastline and does not show Sierra Nevada.

The Mariette dynasty of printsellers, engravers and publishers were founded in Paris by Pierre Mariette (1596-1657). His son, Pierre II, bought the business from his father in 1657 and combined it with the stock he had acquired by marrying the printseller Francois Langlois’s widow in 1655.

Nicolas Sanson was a French mapmaker. He supposedly began to make maps to supplement his study of history, and a map of Ancient Gaul made early in his career brought him to the attention of Cardinal Richelieu. This foothold in the French court allowed him to rise to the position of geographe du roi, teaching both Louis XIII and Louis XIV. Louis XIII even made him a counsellor of state.

Sanson began to collaborate with the Mariette family in 1648, going into business with Pierre. The map was added to Sanson’s ‘Cartes Generales’ in 1665 when the atlas was reissued in collaboration with Pierre II after his father’s death. Zacharakis suggests that the map was also included in Hubert Jaillot’s ‘Atlas Nouveau’. After Sanson’s death the business was carried on by his two surviving sons and grandson, in partnership with Hubert Jaillot.


  1. Sweet 43.