1754 Depot de la Marine Map of the Southwest Coast of Africa


1754 Depot de la Marine Map of the Southwest Coast of Africa


Scarce Bellin map of the southwest coast of Africa and the Cape of Good Hope.


Carte Reduite d'Une partie des Costes Occidentales et Meridionales de L'Afrique Depuis Cabo Frio ou Cap Froid.
  1764 (dated)     36 x 23 in (91.44 x 58.42 cm)     1 : 2646000


This is a scarce and attractive 1754 nautical chart by Nicolas Bellin depicting the southwest coast of Africa from Cape Fria in Namibia to Cape Agulhas (Cape of the Needles) and the Bay of St. Blaise, including the Cape of Good Hope. It shows incredible detail along the coast with capes, bays and topographical features including mountains, rivers as well as coastal features noted. Elevation is beautifully rendered in profile. The map includes three profile views in the top right quadrant. These are ‘Vue Du Cap de Bonne Esperance’ (Cape of Good Hope), ‘Vue Du Cap Falso, Du Cap Des Eguilles et des Terres Qui sont Entre deux’ and ‘Autre Vue Du Cap Falso et Du Cap Des Eguilles’. Cape Town, Constance (Constantia), Stellenbosch and Hangklip are accurately identified.

This map was created by Bellin, who was at the time attached to the Depot de la Marine. Bellin was commissioned by King Louis XIV to augment and correct the work earlier started by the Academie des Sciences. Eventually five variations to this map were created. Bellin’s name is removed from this particular chart. An elaborate and beautiful title cartouche adorned with the arms of the Depot de la Marine is included. Published by the Depot des Cartes et Plans de la Marine.


Dépôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine (fl. 1720 - present), often called the Depot de Marine, was a French hydrographic mapping organization founded in 1720 under Charles-Hercule of Albert de Luynes (674-1734). Much like the U.S. Coast Survey, the British Admiralty, and the Spanish Deposito Hydrografico, the Depot was initiated as a storehouse and distribution center of existing nautical and marine charts. Eventually the depot initiated its own mapping activities in an attempt to improve and expand upon existing material. Some of the more prominent cartographers and hydrographers associated with the of Dépôt des Cartes were, Philippe Buache, Jacques-Nicholas Bellin, Giovanni Rizzi-Zannoni, Rigobert Bonne, and Jean Nicolas Buache.

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.


Very good. Minor wear along original centerfold. Some offsetting. Minor foxing. Original platemark visible.


Norwich, O. I., Norwich's Maps of Africa: An Illustrated and Annotated Cartobibliography, #279.