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The So-Called Velasco Map: A Case of Forgery?

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Author(s): Allen, David Y.

Journal: Coordinates : Online Journal of the Map and Geography Round Table of the American Library Association. Series A
ISSN 1553-3247

Issue: 5;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: Don Alonzo de Velasco | Samuel de Champlain | exploration | forgeries | frauds | fakes | maps | cartography | seventeenth century | northeastern states | Canada

ABSTRACT
This article examines a well-known map of the northeastern United States and southeastern Canada allegedly made in or around 1610. The map was uncovered in the Spanish Archives at Simancas in 1887. Supposedly, it is a copy of an anonymous English map, which was sent to King Phillip III of Spain by the Spanish ambassador to London, Don Alonzo de Velasco. This article raises the possibility that the map may actually be a nineteenth-century forgery. The map is based primarily on information found on early seventeenth-century maps, most of which were not published in 1610, although it is possible that manuscript copies of these maps might have been available as early as 1610. The overall geographic framework of the map seems to be improbably accurate for its supposed date of creation. The map contains numerous oddities, and many features on the map do not appear on other maps made in the early seventeenth century. Overall it seems anachronistic and it stands in isolation from other maps made around 1600. Although no single feature on the map proves beyond a doubt that it is a forgery, the overall weight of the evidence makes it seem highly probable that it is a fake. Tests on the paper, pigment, and handwriting of the map should be made to prove conclusively whether or not it is a forgery.
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