1835 Berghaus 'Atlas von Asien' Map Chart of the South China Sea, Singapore, Malaya

Reduzirte Karte vom Chinesischen Meere; 1stes oder Sudliches Blatt. - Main View

1835 Berghaus 'Atlas von Asien' Map Chart of the South China Sea, Singapore, Malaya


Singapore and the disputed Spratly Islands.


Reduzirte Karte vom Chinesischen Meere; 1stes oder Sudliches Blatt.
  1835 (dated)     25 x 35.25 in (63.5 x 89.535 cm)     1 : 2500000


This is a striking 1835 Heinrich Berghaus nautical map of the South China Sea, Malay Archipelago, Singapore, and the Gulf of Siam. Significantly, it is among the finest mappings of the now disputed Spratly Archipelago. It was issued for Berghaus' looseleaf Atlas von Asien, the best informed general cartographic work on Asia to appear in the mid-19th century.
A Closer Look
Coverage embraces from the Gulf of Thailand islands of Pulo Sancori (Koh Pha Ngan) and Pulo Carnam (Koh Samui), as well as Koh-Trol (Phu Quoc) and Takmao (Cà Mau; Southern Cambodia), south as far as Bangka Island and western Borneo, including the Malay Peninsula and Singapore. An inset in the lower right details the Gulf of Thailand (Golf of Siam), as far inland as Bangkok, as well as Cambodia and Vietnam to include Saigon and Phanran (Phan Rang). As a nautical chart the cartographer offers minimal inland detail, but a wealth of maritime content is present, including countless soundings, particularly along the Straits of Malacca, around Singapore, and along major routes to China. Of such, it notates four, pointing out which is best for which season.
Spratly Islands: Shoals, Banks, Reefs, and Atolls of the South China Sea
The map offers the most meticulous mapping of the countless shoals, banks, reefs, and atolls to the west and north of Borneo - an area often referred to as the West Philippine Sea or, more specifically, the Spratly Islands. It names countless individual islands, as well as the date of their first recorded sighting - mostly in the late 1700s. These islands today are a disputed archipelago with overlapping claims by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Brunei. While most of the islands are uninhabited (and uninhabitable), they overlap the world's most trafficked shipping lanes, are valuable fisheries, and may sit atop rich oil reserves. China has laid claim to the entire archipelago, against numerous international rulings (UNCLOS), and has fortified several of the islands. While China's claims are unrecognized by most other nations, its political, military, and economic power dominate the region. Other claimant countries advocate for different solutions, ranging from peaceful negotiation and sharing the islands, to military action.
Publication History and Census
This map was published in 1835 by Heinrich Berghaus and Justus Perthes. It was engraved in Berlin by W. Jaeck and Wilhelm Brose. The map is no. 14 of Berthaus's Atlas von Asien, all the individual maps of which are exceedingly desirable. According to Perthes company records, only 434 examples of this sheet were printed, although it is impossible to guess how many survive. We know of examples in the David Rumsey Collection, the BnF, and a host of German collections, but little or no presence on the private market.


Heinrich Karl Wilhelm Berghaus (May 3, 1797 – February 17, 1884) was a German (Prussian) geographer who founded the Geographische Kunstschule in Potsdam and trained several important German geographers and cartographers of the late 19th century, including August Heinrich Petermann and his nephew Hermann Berghaus. The elder Berghaus also was a friend and associate of Alexander von Humboldt, producing some of the maps in his publications. In 1837, he inherited the Daniel Gottlob Reymann (1759 – 1837) monumental Geographischer Specialatlas von Deutschland. Berghaus is best known for his own influential and wide-ranging atlases, namely Atlas von Asien, published between 1833 and 1837, and Berghaus' Physikalischer Atlas, published in multiple editions in the 1830s - 1840s. Although Atlas von Asien was a commercial failure, it was regarded as a work of supreme quality, boosting the reputation of the publisher Justus Perthes and setting up their next collaboration, Berghaus' Physikalischer Atlas, for success. More by this mapmaker...

Johan Georg Justus Perthes (September 11, 1749 - May 2, 1816) was one of the most important German cartographic engravers of the 19th century. He was born in the Thuringian town of Rudolstadt, the son of a court physician. In 1778, he began working as a bookseller in Gotha. Perthes began his publishing empire shortly thereafter with the 1784 issue of the famed survey of European nobility known as the Almanac de Gotha. In the next year, 1785, he founded the cartographic firm of Justus Perthes Geographische Anstalt Gotha. His son Wilhelm Perthes (1793 - 1853) joined the firm in 1814. Wilhelm had prior publishing experience at the firm of Justus Perthes' nephew, Friedrich Christoph Perthes, who ran a publishing house in Hamburg. After Justus Perthes died in 1816, Wilhelm took charge and laid the groundwork for the firm to become a cartographic publishing titan. From 1817 to 1890. the Perthes firm issued thousands of maps and more than 20 different atlases. Along with the visionary editors Hermann Berghaus (1797 - 1884), Adolph Stieler (1775 - 1836), and Karl Spruner (1803 - 1892), the Perthes firm pioneered the Hand Atlas. When Wilhelm retired, management of the firm passed to his son, Bernhardt Wilhelm Perthes (1821 – 1857). Bernhardt brought on the cartographic geniuses August Heinrich Peterman (1822 - 1878) and Bruno Hassenstein (1839 - 1902). The firm was subsequently passed to a fourth generation in the form of Berhanrd Perthes (1858 – 1919), Bernhard Wilhelm's son. The firm continued in the family until 1953 when, being in East Germany, it was nationalized and run as a state-owned enterprise as VEB Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt Gotha. The Justus family, led by Joachim Justus Perthes and his son Wolf-Jürgen Perthes, relocated to Darmstadt where they founded the Justus Perthes Geographische Verlagsanstalt Darmstadt. Learn More...

Wilhelm Brose (17xx - 18xx) was a German engraver active in the early 19th century. He engraved for Herman Berghaus and the Justus Perthes firm. He is likely related to Karl Heinrich‏ Brose ‎(1783 - 1861), also an engraver with Perthes, Berghaus, and Flemming. Learn More...

W. Jaeck (18xx - 18xx), a.k.a. Iaeck or Jäck, was a German engraver based in Berlin active in the early to middle 19th century. He engraved for Herman Berghaus and the Justus Perthes firm. Learn More...


Berghaus, H., Atlas von Asien, (Gotha: Justus Perthes) 1832 - 1837.     Heinrich Berghaus's Atlas von Asien was an 18-map loose-leaf atlas issued by Justus Perthes between 1832 and 1858. Of the 18 proposed maps, only 15 were published. Individual maps were large with unprecedented detail. These include 10 land maps and 7 nautical charts derived from British, Dutch, and Portuguese colonial, scientific, and diplomatic missions. Despite this, the project was a financial failure due to the high cost of engraving such large and intricate maps. It took more than 25 years for the maps to be fully published and, according to the Perthes archive, only 20 sets were ultimately bound and sold. The publication run per map ran between 200 to 550 maps, most of which were offered separately. The breadth, detail, and comprehensiveness of the work surpassed any previous mapping of the respective subjects. Although not a direct financial success, the Atlas von Asien was a monumental cartographic accomplishment that put the Perthes firm on par with the great cartographic firms of England and France. The Atlas von Asien was largely forgotten until recent times, when it has become desirable among collectors and institutions.


Very good. Trimmed to neat line. Dissected and laid on original linen.


Rumsey 15177.030. Cheng, Mimi, Cultural Orientalism, https://karafas.hypotheses.org/350.