A fine example of George Vancouver's 1799 mapping of the northern California and Oregon. This map covers from Cape Lookout and the Columbia River southward past Cape Gregory, Cape Orford, Port St. George, the Bay of Trinidad, and Cape Mendocino to roughly 38 degrees 15 minutes north latitude. Vancouver mapped this coastline, which he identified as New Albion, recognizing the english claim to this territory established by Sir Frances Drake, in 1792. An inset map of the Bay of Trinidad (Baie de la Trinidad) appears in the lower right quadrant. Vancouver visited the Bay of Trinidad in 1793 and made a special note of the 'friendly and courteous' natives. The route of the Vancouver expedition is shown zigzagging back and for the along the coast. elevation is shown by profile. While inland detail is minimal, there is a more sophisticated mapping of the interior in the upper right quadrant, including a map of the course of the Columbia River to Point Vancouver – the extent of Vancouver's exploration in the region. Mount Hood appears in the distance – as Vancouver's crew must have seen it from the Columbia River. Though not the goal of his expedition, which lay further north, Vancouver's mapping of the California and Oregon coastlines generated the finest costal charts of this region to date and is an important stepping stone in the cartographic history of the American west coast.
This particular example of Vancouver's map was issued as plate no. 5 in the highly desirable 1799 French edition of Vancouver's Atlas. The rare and coveted French edition of Vancouver's Atlas is more beautifully produced with better engraving, higher quality paper, and more detail then the 1798 english edition.
George Vancouver (June 22, 1750 - May 10, 1798) was a British naval officer and explorer active in the late 18th century. Vancouver was the last of the great naval explores of the 18th century and, along with Captain James Cook and Perouse, is credited with the first accurate mapping of the Northwest Coast of America. Vancouver was born in King's Lynn, England and joined the Royal Navy at age 13 as a seaman. While little is known of Vancouver's early life, he first appears in the annals of history as a midshipmen aboard the HMS Resolution of Captain Cook's second voyage in search of Terra Australis. On this expedition Vancouver claimed to have "been nearer the south pole than any other man" (after climbing the bowsprit before the ship turned back in the face of mountains of Antarctic ice). He also accompanied the third Cook expedition as a midshipman on the HMS Discovery where he witnessed the discovery of the Hawaiian Islands as well as Cooks tragic death on those same islands. Returning to England under Cook's second, Captain Clerke recommended Vancouver for promotion to Lieutenant. Under his new commission he spent several years learning surveying in the Caribbean aboard the HMS Martin, where he also distinguished himself in a number of military altercations with the French. In 1790 Vancouver received an appointment as the Captain of the HMS Discovery and was commissioned to complete the exploration of American's Northwest Coast begun by Cook and Perouse. Between 1791 and 1795 Vancouver's remarkable diligence and attention to detail created the first truly accurate cartographic picture of the American Coast between San Francisco Bay and California. Vancouver was the first to map countless rivers and inlets and to identify Vancouver Island. During his four years of exploration he also spent three winters in Hawaii, creating in the process the first accurate map of the islands. Unlike many earlier explorers Vancouver generally maintained good and respectful relations with the indigenous peoples he encountered. In Hawaii Vancouver allegedly negotiated the cession of Hawaii to England as well as introduced beneficial flora and fauna to the archipelago. Vancouver returned to England in 1795 where he immediately ran afoul of the powers that be. During his voyages Vancouver excited the ire of more than one crew member, including the well-connected naturalist Archibald Menzies, the sailing master Joseph Whidbey, and Thomas Pitt, the powerful Baron of Camelford. Slandered and assaulted by these influential enemies, one of Britian's greatest explorers fell into obscurity. He died shortly after in 1798 and was buried in an unremarkable grave at St. Peter's Churchyard, Petersham, Surrey, England. The journals of Vancouver's expedition, as well as his all-important maps, were published posthumously in the same year as his death. Robin Fisher, the academic Vice President of Mount Royal University in Calgary and author of two books on Vancouver, writes:
He [Vancouver] put the northwest coast on the map...He drew up a map of the north-west coast that was accurate to the 'nth degree,' to the point it was still being used into the modern day as a navigational aid. That's unusual for a map from that early a time. Today Vancouver is memorialized by Vancouver Island, which he discovered, the Hudson Bay Company's Fort Vancouver, the city of Vancouver, Vancouver Peninsula Australia, Mount Vancouver, the 8th highest mountain in Canada, Vancouver Bay in Jervis Inlet, and the Vancouver Maritime Museum. For his 250th birthday, the Canada Post issued a special postage stamp in his honor.
Vancouver, G., Voyage de decouvertes a l'ocean Pacifique du Nord, et autour du monde : dans lequel la cote nord-ouest de l'Amerique a ete soigneusement reconnue et exactement relevee : ordonne par le roi d'Angleterre, principalement dans la vue de constater s'il existe, a travers le continent de l'Amerique, un passage pour les vaisseaux, de l'ocean Pacifique du Nord a l'ocean Atlantique septentrional : et execute en 1790, 1791, 1792, 1793, 1794 et 1795, (Paris : De l'Imprimerie de la Republique) 1799.
Very good near flawless condition. Original centerfold. Platemark visible. Blank on verso.
Rumsey 0233.006 (1828 reissue). National Maritime Museum. Catalogue, 256.