Sanson's Philippines
By SANSON, Nicolas , 1654

Les Isles Philippines Molucques et de la Sonde

Asia Southeast Asia
  • Author: SANSON, Nicolas
  • Publication place: Paris
  • Publisher: Chez Pierre Mariette, rue St. Jacques a l'Esperance, avec Privilege du Roy Pour vingt Ans
  • Publication date: 1654.
  • Physical description: Engraved map with contemporary hand-colour in outline.
  • Dimensions: 455 by 590mm. (18 by 23.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 17595


The map was engraved by J. Somer for the elder Nicolas Sanson with a privilege for twenty years, and appeared in Sanson’s 1658 ‘Cartes generales de toutes les parties du monde’ and in later editions. It extends to include the Malay Peninsula and shows “Sincapura” on the mainland, Canton on the Chinese coast, the Marianas in the east, the Philippines, the islands of the Indonesian archipelago, and part of Carpentaria, Northern Australia, in the south.

In spite of later developments in the cartography of the East Indies the map remained unchanged, with the original date and Pierre Mariette’s name as publisher, for nearly a century. It therefore reflects the historical situation and the state of cartographic knowledge in the middle of the seventeenth century.

Nicolas Sanson (1600-1667) 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 produced an atlas, ​’Cartes Generales de Toutes les Parties du Monde’, which contained important maps of the post roads and waterways of France. He also produced two major maps of North America: ​’Amerique Septentrionale’ (1650) was the first map to show the Great Lakes in a recognisable form, aided by Sanson’s access to The Jesuit Relations, a collection of accounts by French missionaries to the area. The map was drawn on a sinusoidal projection, which Sanson was the first to use. In 1656 he made ​’Le Canada ou Nouvelle France’, which showed the Great Lakes in greater detail, and included accurate representations of the Hudson Bay area, the Delaware and the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.