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1799 Bertholon Map of Asia

Carte d'Asie Divisee en ses Princpaux Etats Assujettie Observations Astronomiques. - Main View

1799 Bertholon Map of Asia


Identifies the Sea of Korea.


Carte d'Asie Divisee en ses Princpaux Etats Assujettie Observations Astronomiques.
  1799 (undated)     7.5 x 9.5 in (19.05 x 24.13 cm)     1 : 62000000


This is a beautiful example of C. Bertholon's 1799 map of Asia. It covers the continent from the Red Sea (Mer Rouge) east as far as New Guinea. This map is most interesting in its rendering of the largely unexplored extreme northwest of Asia.

The sea between Japan and Korea is here identified in favor of Korea. Historically, Korea has used the term 'East Sea' since 59 B.C., and many books published before the Japanese annexed Korea make references to the 'East Sea' or 'Sea of Korea.' Over time, neighboring and western countries have identified Korea's East Sea using various different terms. The St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences referred to the East Sea as 'Koreiskoe Mope' or 'Sea of Korea' in their 1745 map of Asia. Other seventeenth and 18th century Russian maps alternate between 'Sea of Korea' and 'Eastern Ocean.' The 18th century Russian and French explorers Adam Johan von Krusenstern and La Perouse called it the 'Sea of Japan,' a term that became popular worldwide. Nonetheless, the last official map published by the Russians name the East Sea the 'Sea of Korea.' The name is currently still a matter of historical and political dispute between the countries.

Just to the east of Yeco (Hokkaido or Yesso), Bertholon maps the apocryphal Terre de la Compagnie or Terre de Gama. Often called de Gamma Land or Gama, these islands were 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. Though it may be little more than a mis-mapping of Hokkaido or the Japanese Kuriles, Gama or Compagnie remained on maps for over 50 years following Bering's voyages until the explorations of Cook confirmed the Bering findings.

Though the mainland of Siberia and northeast Asia are remarkably well mapped based upon the explorations of Vitus Bering and Tschirikow, a further anomaly appears in the form of an unusual landmass just to the east of Kamchatka roughly where the Aleutian Islands are today. A note reads that this land mass claims that it was seen in 1741, suggesting either Vitus Bering or Alexei Chirikov. This is most likely an embryonic representation of the Muller Peninsula. The Muller Peninsula was a postulated by Gerhard Muller around this time based on recorded sightings of the Aleutian Archipelago and their misinterpretation of it as a single land mass. Further to the south, New Guinea (Novelle Guinee) is mapped speculatively with most of its eastern and southern borders left either blank or hidden behind the title cartouche.

This map, based on an earlier 1790 map by Joseph La Porte was published in 1799 as plate no 16 in C. Betholon's Atlas moderne portative.


Bertholon, C., Atlas Moderne Portatif, 1799.    


Very good. Blank on verso.


University of Southern California, Sea of Korea Map Collection, map no. EAMC-8