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1890 Belcher Nautical Map of Hong Kong Island

China Hong Kong Surveyed by Captn. Sir Edward Belcher in H.M.S. Sulphur 1841. - Main View

1890 Belcher Nautical Map of Hong Kong Island


Belcher's influential chart is considered the first British Map of Hong Kong.



China Hong Kong Surveyed by Captn. Sir Edward Belcher in H.M.S. Sulphur 1841.
  1890 (dated)     25 x 37 in (63.5 x 93.98 cm)     1 : 32000


An iconic map of the utmost importance and rarity, this is the 1890 issue of Edward Belcher's nautical map of Hong Kong (香港) and vicinity. Belcher's 1841 study is considered to be the first British survey of Hong Kong and played a significant role in the British acquisition of the Crown Colony. The map covers all of Hong Kong Island (香港島) as well as the Kowloon (Kaulung /九龍) Peninsula and, either in part of full, the adjacent island of Lan Tao (大嶼山), Peng Chau (坪洲), Hei Ling Chau (喜靈洲), Lamma (南丫島), Sheung Sze Mun (雙四門), Po Toi (蒲苔羣島), and Tung Lung Chau (東龍洲). The map offers impressive detail to the level of individual buildings, especially in the vicinity of Victoria, Central, and on the Kowloon Peninsula. Countless depth soundings in fathoms throughout. An inset map of Fotaumun Pass or Tathong Channel (大東門) appears in the upper right quadrant.

Belcher surveyed Hong Kong Island and Harbour after landing the bombing and surveying vessel H.M.S. Sulphur on Possession Point on January, 26, 1841. At the height of the First Opium War (1839–42), Belcher's landing marked the first British fleet to land on and take possession of Hong Kong for the British Crown. Belcher may have been unaware of the long term significance of his conquest, but he was certainly a keen enough observer to recognize Hong Kong's strategic significance and commercial potential. As such, his impressive map, first published in 1843, set the standard upon which most subsequent nautical charts of Hong Kong were based well into the 20th century.

This is a working nautical chart that was owned by the Thomas Reese Anderson, the New Brunswick captain of the ship Albania, a 1438 Ton vessel (of the Taylor Brother's feet), which made a historic run between Yokohama, Japan, Singapore and New York. This chart was used for a charter voyage made in 1891 departing New York on the 25th of February and arriving in Yokohama on July 9th. Today Anderson's voyage to Japan is an important reference for maritime historians due to the detail of Anderson's surviving documents archived at Mount Allison University.

Following this voyage, where Anderson apparently had a dalliance with a Japanese woman, he retired from sailing and became a man of means in his hometown of Sackville, New Brunswick. He invested in various businesses including a railroad line. Sadly, this was his demise. Anderson was killed by a shunting train engine in 1918.

Anderson most likely acquired this chart in preparation for his 1891 voyage from Philip, Son, & Nephew, agents for Admiralty charts in Liverpool, whose stamp appears in the upper right quadrant. The basic cartography dates to Belcher's original 1841 survey. Corrections and revisions were added in 1878, 1883, and 1889. The final publishing note and correction date is 1890. It was printed by J. and C. Walker for the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office as chart no 1466. All examples of this chart in all editions are extremely rare.


Sir Edward Belcher (February 27, 1799 – March 18, 1877) was a British naval officer, scientist, explorer, and marine surveyor active in the middle part of the 19th century. Belcher was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia, to a proud seafaring family. He entered the Royal Navy in 1812, at just 13 years of age. Thirteen years later, in 1825, he was assigned as official surveyor to the Frederick William Beechey expedition to the Pacific and the Bering Strait. By 1836 he was in command of his own surveying (and bombing) ship, the H.M.S. Sulphur in western Africa and the Pacific coast of South America. The Sulphur was ordered back to England via the Trans-Pacific Route in 1839. On the way, he was delayed and reassigned to China to take part in the First Opium War (1839 – 1842). During this period, on January 26 of 1841, he landed on Possession Point on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. During this visit he made the influential first British survey of Hong Kong Harbor. On returning to England he was Knighted for his services and reassigned to the HMS Samarang to complete survey work throughout the East Indies, but most specifically in the Philippines. In 1852 he commanded the last and largest Admiralty expedition in search of the lost Arctic Explorer Sir John Franklin. The expedition had five ships, four of which were lost to the Arctic ice. Like all British naval officers who lose a ship, he was court-martialed on his return to England. Although exonerated, he never received another command. He died in London at the age of 78. Belcher is commemorated in Hong Kong through Belcher's Street, Belcher Bay and The Belcher's in Kennedy Town. His name is also commemorated in the Belcher Islands, in the Canadian Arctic. He is also commemorated with a plaque in the Admiralty Garden. Following his last active service, he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1867 and an admiral in 1872. Learn More...

The British Admiralty Office (1795 - Present) or the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office refers to the Branch of the English government that is responsible for the command of the British Navy. In 1795 King George III created the United Kingdom Hydrographic Office, known in short as the U.K.H.O., to provide top notch nautical charts to the vast Royal Navy. Prior the founding of the Admiralty the surveying and creation of nautical charts was primarily a commercial venture wherein the cartographer himself, more of than not, actually financed the printing of his own material. The great navigator Cook himself is known to have scrambled for funds to publish his own seminal charts - the most important and advanced of the period. The system of privately funded nautical mapping and publishing left vast portions of the world uncharted and many excellent charts unpublished. King George III, responding significant loss in trade revenue related to shipwrecks and delay due to poor charts, recognized the need for an institutionalized government sponsored cartographic agency - the Admiralty. The first head of the Admiralty, a position known as Hydrographer, was the important cartographer Alexander Dalrymple. Dalrymple started by organizing and cataloging obtainable charts before initiating the laborious process of updating them and filling in the blanks. The first official Admiralty Chart appeared in 1800 and detailed Quiberon Bay in Brittany. By 1808 the position of Hydrographer fell to Captain Thomas Hurd. Hurd advocated the sale of Admiralty charts to the general public and, by the time he retired in 1829, had issued and published some 736 charts. Stewardship of the organization then passed to Rear Admiral Sir Francis Beaufort. It was under Beaufort's administration that the Admiralty truly developed as a "chart making" as opposed to a "chart cataloging" institution. Beaufort held his post from 1829 to 1854. In his 25 years at the Admiralty Beaufort created nearly 1500 new charts and sponsored countless surveying and scientific expeditions - including the 1831 to 1836 voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle. By 1855 the Admiralty's chart catalog listed some 1,981 charts. Learn More...

John Walker (1787 - April 19, 1873) was a British map seller, engraver, lithographer, hydrographer, geographer, draughtsman and publisher active in London during the 19th century. Walker published both nautical charts and geographical maps. His nautical work is particular distinguished as he was an official hydrographer for the British East India Company, a position, incidentally, also held by his father of the same name. Walker's maps mostly published after 1827, were primarily produced in partnership with his brothers Charles Walker and Alexander Walker under the imprint J. and C. Walker. Among their joint projects are more than 200 maps for the influential Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Atlas (SDUK). In addition they published numerous charts for James Horsburgh and the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office, including Belcher's important map of Hong Kong and Carless' exploratory map of Karachi. The J. and C. Walker firm continued to publish after both Walkers died in the 1870s. Learn More...


Very good. Minor repair not intruding on printed map, upper left margin.


OCLC 54871290.