Nicolas de Fer

1646 - 1720

Nicolas de Fer was one of the most influential and prolific French cartographers and geographers of the late seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, whose maps were prized for their decorative qualities.

His father, Antoine de Fer, was a Parisian map dealer and an associate of the renowned engraver Melchior Tavernier, but his chief business was republication of plates purchased from other editors; it never actually flourished.

At twelve Nicolas became an apprentice to Louis Spirinx, a Parisian engraver, but it was not until he reached 23 that he created his first known map, Canal du Midi. In 1690 de Fer became an official geographer to the Dauphin and published his first Atlas of the Coasts of France. Later he served as an official geographer to Philip de France, Duke of Anjou, who in 1700 became the Spanish King, and since 1711 Nicolas de Fer was an official geographer to the kings of both Spain and France. In 1720 he received the title Géographe ordinaire de sa Majesté Catholique. De Fer produced more than 600 sheet maps, atlases, and wall maps.

He died on 25 October, 1720, and his estate was divided among his three daughters, whose husbands were all closely engaged in the engraving and publishing business in Paris: Guillaume Danet, bookseller on the Pont Notre Dame; Remi Richer, engraver of geographical works on the Quai de L'Horloge, and Jaques-Francois Besnard, or Bénard, engraver to the King of Spain in rue de Callande. Richer sold his share in the estate to his two brothers-in-law in 1721, and a number of de Fer's maps and atlases continued to be published by his heirs for another twenty or thirty years.

Les etats du Czar ou Empereur des Russes en Europe et en Asie: en Europe et en Asie, avec les routes q'uon tient ordinairement de Moscow a Pekim

Paris: I.F. Benard, gendre du S. de Fer, 1722.
G7000 1722 .F4

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