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1758 Bellin Speculative Map of the Arctic (Canada, Siberia, Alaska)

Carte Reduite des Parties Septentrionales du Globe, Situees, Entre l'Ansie et l'Amerique. - Main View

1758 Bellin Speculative Map of the Arctic (Canada, Siberia, Alaska)


Fascinating speculative map of the Pacific Nortwest.


Carte Reduite des Parties Septentrionales du Globe, Situees, Entre l'Ansie et l'Amerique.
  1758 (undated)     9 x 14 in (22.86 x 35.56 cm)     1 : 25000000


This fascinating 1758 hand colored map by French cartographer Jacques-Nicholas Bellin features the northernmost part of North America and Asia focusing on the Canadian Arctic and the easternmost part of Siberia, including Kamchatka. The map extends from Baffin Bay south as far as Lake Huron. Throughout Bellin includes annotations and references explorations and discoveries of notable navigators including Juan de Fuca, Martin d’Augilar and Russian discoveries including those of Vitus Bering in 1741. As much attention as Bellin lavished on the Hudson Bay, this map's compelling cartography appears in the west. Much of the North American cartography here is speculative, and includes the 'Mer de L'Ouest’ and a barely delineated coast of Alaska as ‘Land seen by the Russians in 1728’. As we continue this description we will go over these cartographic anomalies in detail.

Entrances to the apocryphal sea called ‘The Sea of the West’ are noted for both Martin d'Aguilar, who charted a 'swift flowing river' (the Columbia River?), and Juan de Fuca (the modern day Strait of Juan de Fuca) are noted near the bottom of the map. This body of water, alternatively called the Sea of the West or Mer de l'Ouest, was speculated by Philippe Buache and De l'Isle in the early 18th century based upon wishful thinking, American Indian stories, and the somewhat questionable 16th century explorations of Juan de Fuca. Just southwest of the unmapped Sea of the West, Bellin points out the dubious existence of Quiviara and Teguayo, mythical undiscovered cities of gold sought since the days of the Conquistadores.

Moving west, Bellin notes a peculiar landmass in the North Atlantic just east of Kamchatka sighted in 1741 by Tchirikow. This might be considered a proto-form of Muller's Peninsula. It was based upon sightings of the Aleutian Islands by Vitus Bering on his first voyage in 1725 and an actual landing by Tchirikow (Aleksei Ilyich Chirikov). Tchirikow sighted many of the Aleutian Islands on his 1741 voyage, but landed only once.

Further west, near the edge of the map, Bellin notes the ‘Land seen by Juan de Gama’. Gama or Gamaland was supposedly discovered in the 17th century by a mysterious figure known as Jean de Gama. Various subsequent navigators claim to have seen this land, but it was left to Bering to finally debunk the myth. In 1729, he sailed for three days looking for Juan de Gama land but never found it. Gama remained on maps for about 50 years following Bering's explorations until the explorations of Cook confirmed the Bering findings.

A note below the title states that it is ‘unknown whether this area is land or sea’. Overall a fascinating map of the pacific northwest. This map was drawn by Jacques Nicolas Bellin and published as plate no. 4 in volume 9 of the 1758 French edition of Abbe Provost's L'Histoire Generale des Voyages.


Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703 - March 21, 1772) was one of the most important cartographers of the 18th century. With a career spanning some 50 years, Bellin is best understood as geographe de cabinet and transitional mapmaker spanning the gap between 18th and early-19th century cartographic styles. His long career as Hydrographer and Ingénieur Hydrographe at the French Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine resulted in hundreds of high quality nautical charts of practically everywhere in the world. A true child of the Enlightenment Era, Bellin's work focuses on function and accuracy tending in the process to be less decorative than the earlier 17th and 18th century cartographic work. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bellin was always careful to cite his references and his scholarly corpus consists of over 1400 articles on geography prepared for Diderot's Encyclopedie. Bellin, despite his extraordinary success, may not have enjoyed his work, which is described as "long, unpleasant, and hard." In addition to numerous maps and charts published during his lifetime, many of Bellin's maps were updated (or not) and published posthumously. He was succeeded as Ingénieur Hydrographe by his student, also a prolific and influential cartographer, Rigobert Bonne. Learn More...


Provost, A., L'Histoire Generale des Voyages, Vol XIV, plate 4.    


Very good. Minor wear along original fold lines. Minor toning and offsetting, with some foxing at places. Original platemark visible.


Toronto Public Library, Toronto Reference Library, 912.98 B25 small.