1752 Bellin Map of the Empire of Japan

Karte Von Dem Reiche Japon. - Main View

1752 Bellin Map of the Empire of Japan


Identifies the Sea of Korea.


Karte Von Dem Reiche Japon.
  1752 (undated)     9 x 13 in (22.86 x 33.02 cm)     1 : 5433000


This is a beautiful 1752 Bellin map of the empire of Japan. Centered on the Bay of Osaka, this map covers from Hirado (here identified as I. Firando) and Nagasaki to Akita (Aquita), to include most of Tokugawa (edo) era Japan. The island of Hokkaido is not included in this map. Various towns, harbors, bays, provinces, mountains and daimyo are noted, although many are speculative.

The map overall is highly inaccurate. Shikoku Island (here identified as I. Xixoco) appears to be almost square with a deep inlet on its northern side, while Kyushu (Insel Ximo) is slanted to the east. On the island of Honshu (Insel Nippon), the Aomori Prefecture is foreshortened while the Oki Islands appear exaggerated. The Shimane prefecture and the Noto Peninsula are also distorted. The sea between Japan and Korea, whose name, either the 'Sea of Korea', 'east Sea', or the 'Sea of Japan,' is here identified in favor of Korea (Meer von Corea).

Historically, Korea has used the term 'east Sea' since 59 B.C., and many books published before the Japanese annexed Korea make references to the 'east Sea' or 'Sea of Korea'. Over time, neighboring and western countries have identified Korea's east Sea using various different terms. The St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences referred to the east Sea as 'Koreiskoe Mope' or 'Sea of Korea' in their 1745 map of Asia. Other seventeenth and 18th century Russian maps alternate between 'Sea of Korea' and 'eastern Ocean'. The 18th century Russian and French explorers Adam Johan von Krusenstern and La Perouse called it the 'Sea of Japan', a term that became popular worldwide. Nonetheless, the last official map published by the Russians name the east Sea the 'Sea of Korea'. The name is currently still a matter of historical and political dispute between the countries.

A rococo style title cartouche is included in the upper left quadrant. This map was published in the 1752 German edition of A. F. Prevost's Histoire Generale des Voyages.


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. More by this mapmaker...


Prevost, A. F., Histoire Generale des Voyages, 1752 (German edition).    


Very good. Verso reinforcements at a couple of places. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso.


Lutz, Walter, OAG 111