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1794 Laurie and Whittle Map of Table Bay, Cape Town, South Africa


A Plan of Table Bay with the Road of th Cape of Good Hope, from the Dutch Survey Published by Joannes Van Keulen.
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Title:    A Plan of Table Bay with the Road of th Cape of Good Hope, from the Dutch Survey Published by Joannes Van Keulen.

Description:    A scarce 1794 nautical chart or maritime map of the Table Bay, South Africa, by Robert Laurie and James Whittle. Oriented to the east, this stunning map of the Table Bay, South Africa, covers from Blue Hill to Table Mountain, including Cape Town, Lyons Mount, Devils Mount, Table Valley, the Great Downs, and the notorious prison Robben Island. In the upper left quadrant there is a southward looking view of Cape Town, Table Mount, Devils Mount, and Lyons Mount drawn by Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (1713 - 1762), a well-respected French astronomer based in Cape Town. Elsewhere elevation is rendered on profile.

Laurie and Whittle derived the map from Sayer, whose operation they acquired in 1787. As noted in the title, Sayer derived the map from a much earlier 17th century plan by the Dutch East India Company chart maker Johannes van Keulen (1654-1715). This reference is mostly likely to Van Keulen's c. 1700 chart Kaart van de Tafel Baay. That Laurie and Whittle, publishing more than 100 years later, could not find a better source map emphasizes the pre-Admiralty paucity of cartographic and hydrographic information available to 18th century English navigators and chart publishers, even when the subject matter is a major colony and essential port-of-call on the all-important 'round-Africa route to the East Indies. Sitting down to examine the two charts side by side reveals few updates - even the soundings, which naturally change over time, are nearly identical to the c. 1700 chart. New hydrographic surveys of Table Bay would not follow until the work of the Admiralty in the early 19th century. This map was published by Laurie and Whittle from their offices at 53 Fleet Street, London, on May 12, 1794. It was issued independently as well as offered in their 1797 East-India Pilot, or Oriental Navigator.


Date:    1794 (dated)

Source:    Laurie, R., and Whittle, J., The East-India Pilot, or Oriental Navigator, on One Hundred and Eighteen Plates: Containing a Complete Collection of Charts and Plans, &c., &c. for the Navigation not only of the Indian and China Seas, but of those also between England and the Cape of Good-Hope; Improved and Chiefly Composed from the Last Work of M. D'Apres de Mannevillette; with Considerable Additions, from Private Manuscripts of the Dutch, and from Draughts and Actual Surveys Communicated By Officers of the East-India Company A New Edition, Containing One Hundred and Five Charts. (London: Laurie and Whittle) 1797.    

References:    Afriterra, no. 446. Tooley, R.V., Collectors' guide to maps of the African continent and southern Africa p.63, pl.47 (Sayer & Bennett issue). Norwich, O.I. #269.

Cartographer:    Laurie and Whittle (fl. 1794 - 1858) were London, England, based map and atlas publishers active in the late 18th and early 19th century. Generally considered to be the successors to the Robert Sayer firm, Laurie and Whittle was founded by Robert Laurie (c. 1755 - 1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818). Robert Laurie was a skilled mezzotint engraver and is known to have worked with Robert Sayer on numerous projects. James Whittle was a well-known London socialite and print seller whose Fleet Street shop was a popular haunt for intellectual luminaries. The partnership began taking over the general management of Sayer's firm around 1787; however, they did not alter the Sayer imprint until after Sayer's death in 1794. Apparently Laurie did most of the work in managing the firm and hence his name appeared first in the "Laurie and Whittle" imprint. Together Laurie and Whittle published numerous maps and atlases, often bringing in other important cartographers of the day, including Kitchin, Faden, Jefferys and others to update and modify their existing Sayer plates. Robert Laurie retired in 1812, leaving the day to day management of the firm to his son, Richard Holmes Laurie (1777 - 1858). Under R. H. Laurie and James Whittle, the firm renamed itself "Whittle and Laurie". Whittle himself died in six years later in 1818, and thereafter the firm continued under the imprint of "R. H. Laurie". After R. H. Laurie's death the publishing house and its printing stock came under control of Alexander George Findlay, who had long been associated with Laurie and Whittle. Since, Laurie and Whittle has passed through numerous permeations, with part of the firm still extant as an English publisher of maritime or nautical charts, 'Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd.' The firm remains the oldest surviving chart publisher in Europe. Click here for a list of rare maps from Laurie & Whittle.

Cartographer:    Johannis Van Keulen (1654 – 1715) was a Dutch cartographer active in Amsterdam during the late 17th century. Keulen was the son of Lucas van Keulen. Keulen's firm, ‘In de Gekroonde Lootsman' (In the Crowned Pilot), was founded in 1678 and registered with the Amsterdam Bookseller's guild as 'Cross staff-maker and bookseller'. The cross-staff is a nautical instrument used to determine latitude. Two years later, in 1680, they obtained a patent from the States of Holland and West Friesland to publish nautical charts and atlases. Together with his partner, the cartographer Claes Janz Vooght, Van Keulen published numerous atlases and nautical charts, including the Zee Atlas and Nieuwe Lichtende Zee-Fakkel. This later work, the Zee-Fakkel, which in translation means 'Sea Torch', was a massive five volume atlas containing more than 130 nautical charts. The Zee-Fakkel established the Keulen firm as the pre-eminent maker of Dutch sea charts in the late 17th and early 18th century. Following Johannis Van Keulen death in 1715, his son, Gerard van Keulen (1678-1726) continued to update and republish the Zee-Fakkel until his own death in 1726. The firm was later passed on to Gerard's son, Johannes II von Keulen (1704-1755), who significantly updated the atlas, especially with regard to Asia. The final editions of the atlas were published by Gerlad Hulst van Keulen (1733-1801), Joannes II's son. The final edition of the Zee-Fakkel was published posthumously in 1803. It is noteworthy that though ostensibly controlled by the Van Keulen men, it was actually the widows of Keulens who maintained and managed the firm in the periods following their husbands' deaths. Click here for a list of rare maps by Van Keulen..

Size:   Printed area measures 22 x 19.5 inches (55.88 x 49.53 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 40000

Condition:    Very good. Centerfold verso repair. Some offsetting.

Code:   TableBaySouthAfrica-lauriewhittle-1794 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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