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1795 Faden Map of the Greater Antilles (West Indies): Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola

A Chart of the Windward Passage Between the Islands of Jamaica Hispaniola and Cuba with the other Passages to the Northwest of Hispaniola.

1795 Faden Map of the Greater Antilles (West Indies): Bahamas, Cuba, Hispaniola


Scarce nautical chart of the Windward Passage, a popular hunting ground for Caribbean pirates and privateers.



A Chart of the Windward Passage Between the Islands of Jamaica Hispaniola and Cuba with the other Passages to the Northwest of Hispaniola.
  1795 (dated)    23 x 31 in (58.42 x 78.74 cm)


A mesmerizing and extremely scarce 1795 Charles Roberts nautical chart of the Windward Passage, between Cuba and Hispaniola (Santo Domingo), in the Greater Antilles, West Indies. Centered on Great Iguana Island (Le Mornet or Grand Inague) in the modern day Bahamas, this map covers from eastern Cuba to the Porto Rico Channel and from Guanahani Island (Cat Island, where Columbus supposedly landed) southwards to include all of Hispaniola and Jamaica. Cuba is overlaid with four land profiles illustrating Cape St. Nicholas, Cape Dame Marie, Cape Tiburon, and Morant Point (Jamaica). An inset in the lower left quadrant, just above Jamaica, illustrates the Morant Keys, a particularly dangerous area of sea to the southeast of Jamaica. There are numerous depth soundings and rhumb lines throughout. A chart in the upper left quadrant details Roberts' astronomical observations.

This extraordinarily detailed and masterfully engraved chart is a product of the final days of Caribbean piracy and privateering. The late 18th and early 19th century saw a resurgence of privateering as successive colonial powers jostled for supremacy in the region. Though piracy was on the rise throughout the Caribbean, nowhere was it more prevalent than in the Windward Passage, a vital maritime trade artery between Cuba and Santo Domingo. This era gave rise to the French pirates Pierre and Jean Lafitte, among the most successful pirates of all time. This map offers some indication that was in fact working sea chart in the form of a curious manuscript annotation in the lower right quadrant correcting the southern coast of Hispaniola.

Cartographically this map is based on earlier French work including Antoine-Hyacinthe de Chastenet Puysegur's 1787 Pilote de l'Isle de St. Domingue and Jacques Nicholas Bellin's 1768 Description des debouquements qui sont au nord de l'Isle de St. Domingue. These and other charts were compiled into this larger chart updated to 1795 by Charles Roberts, a Master in the Royal Navy.


Charles Roberts (1739 - 1825) was a British navigator and nautical surveyor active in the late 18th century. Roberts spent most of his life in the British West Indies and along the coasts of South America where is compiled and updated several nautical charts during his long career as a Master in the Royal Navy. He is specifically credited with three scarce charts focusing on various passages in the Greater Antilles. Rogers did most of his observational work among merchant vessels traversing the West Indies and personally records at least 24 such voyages. Roberts died at Leith in 1825 at the age of 86.

William Faden (1750 - 1836) was an English Cartographer and publisher of the late 18th century. Faden worked under the direction of Thomas Jefferys. Jefferys held the position as "Geographer to the King and to the Prince of Wales", and upon his death in 1771, this position passed to William Faden. By 1822 Faden published over 350 known maps, atlases, and military plans. Faden had a particular interest in the mapping of North America and is best known for his important publication of the North American Atlas. William Faden is also well known for his publication of the first maps for the British Ordnance Survey in 1801. Following his death in 1836 Faden's firm was taken over by James Wyld.

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. Some offsetting. Original centerfold exhibits light archival verso reinforcement along lower margin.


Brown University, John Carter Brown Library, Cabinet Em795 RoC.
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