VISSCHER, Nicholas Janszen (1618-1679). Exactissima Helvetiae Rhaetiae Valesiae Caeterorumq Confoederatorum ut et finitimorum Popularum. Amsterdam: Frederick De Wit, c. 1705.

$ 725.00

Single sheet, (21 ¼ x 24 ¼ inches; 18 ¼ x 22 ¼ inches to the neat line; full margins showing the plate mark). Exceptionally fine engraved map of Switzerland with MAGNIFICENT ORIGINAL HAND COLOR IN FULL, with the individual regions shown in different bold watercolors of green, pink, and yellow, the topographical features shown pictorially, HEIGHTENED WITH LIQUID GOLD, the fine compass rose pointing north with a GOLD-ENHANCED FLEUR-DE-LIS, surrounded by a border of yellow wash (separating along old central fold, slightly toned).

A beautifully detailed map of Switzerland and surrounding regions in present-day France, Germany, and Italy with EXCEPTIONALLY FINE HAND COLOR HEIGHTENED WITH LIQUID GOLD. This map features two decorative cartouches: the larger is flanked by two putti, one in military garb, and the smaller has one putto and reads "Illustrissimis. Potentissimis ac Florentissimis Rebus-Publicis Helvetiorum, Tigurinae, Bernensi Basiliensi Scaphusinae Novam hanc & postomnes alias Exactissinam Helvetiae Tabulam d. d. d."

Originally published by the second Nicholas Visscher, a new edition of this map was later published by his son Nicholas (1649-1709) in his monumental work "Atlas Minor" (1680). Versions were also issued by Peter Schenk and Frederick De Wit in "Atlas Maior" (as here) at the end of the 17th century and subsequently reprinted in various editions.

Deftly illustrated with topographical features, in particular the extensive mountain ranges, with hundreds of small villages named. A small compass rose sits below a cherub holding the scale of miles, which shows Swiss, German, Italian, and French measurements. Several cities are noted with a LIQUID GOLD dot: Basel, Schaffhausen, Bern, Geneva, Chur, Worms, Morbegno, Lucerne, Stans, Sion, Chiavenna, Schwyz, Zug, Altdorf, Glarus, Fribourg, and Bergamo.

"When pre-modern Switzerland is being compared with other European states it is important to remember that the former was not a centralized monarchy but mainly a confederation of sovereign city-states and peasant republics. Hence there was no truly centralized or mercantilised economic policy. Just as importantly, cottage industries, proto-industrialisation, markets and (to a large extent) foreign trade were directed and controlled by the 'capitals' of the major city-states. The further these 'capitals' were from the centre of Switzerland, the greater their economic dominance. There was a considerable variety of rural-urban relationships between individual city-states. In the secondary and tertiary sector, for example, Basle, Zurich, Schaffhausen and Geneva pursued a consisted economic policy which favoured entrepreneurs and merchants living in the capital. The policies of the old state of Berne, on the other hand, encouraged the economic activities which had developed in the towns and larger rural centres. In the peasant republics and the city-states of central Switzerland, the dominant economic activities of milk and livestock production, mercenary service and the corresponding foreign trade had always been under the control of the socio-politically dominant families in the capital or the rural centres. For banking and exchange facilities, in particular international payment transactions and capital investment, they were wholly dependent on the commercial bankers of Geneva, Lausanne, Berne, Basle and Zurich. In the central region between Geneva and Lake Constance, where proto-industrialisation and the outwork system were solidly established, the division of labour between town and country, still perceptible in the late middle ages and the sixteenth century, became progressively blurred: by the end of the ancien regime, a more or less unified economic area had been created which was able to adapt to the economic liberalism of the nineteenth century with a considerable degree of flexibility" (Epstein, p. 249).

The Visscher family was one of the most distinguished of all 17th-century cartographic firms, and a major player in the era now considered the golden age of Dutch mapmaking. In the late 1600's, a period of great geographical discovery, Amsterdam became an international center of the arts and of cartography, with engravers and printers produced magnificent maps and charts of every kind. The fields of artistic production and mapmaking were arguably more seamlessly united during this era than any period before or since, as the strong competition among publishers meant that maps not only had to be scrupulously accurate, but also visually appealing. In this milieu, a number of venerable firms, including those established by Blaeu, Jansson, Hondius, as well as Visscher, competed for the ever-expanding market for maps and atlases. The firm founded by Nicholas Visscher set standards for exceptional quality that few others were able to equal, and Hendrick de Leth, who eventually rose to assume control of the Visscher publishing house in the 18th century, maintained the company's standards for excellence during a period when Amsterdam's cartographic preeminence was just beginning to be challenged by the French school of scientific cartography. S. R. Epstein, ed., "Town and Country in Europe, 1300-1800."