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1749 Vaugondy Map of Japan and Korea (Sea of Korea)

Le Japon Par le Sr. Robert de Vaugondy Fils de Mr. Robert Geog. du Roi. - Main View

1749 Vaugondy Map of Japan and Korea (Sea of Korea)


Rare map of Japan and Korea ientifying the Sea of Korea.


Le Japon Par le Sr. Robert de Vaugondy Fils de Mr. Robert Geog. du Roi.
  1749 (dated)     6.75 x 6.75 in (17.145 x 17.145 cm)     1 : 15800000


This is a hand colored 1749 Didier Robert de Vaugondy map of Japan and Korea, with Sea of Korea identified. The map centers on the home islands of Japan and depicts from Korea and China to the Pacific Ocean (Ocean Oriental). Japan itself is dotted with cities and towns, including Osaka (Osaca) and Nagasaki (Nangasaki). China is labeled as 'Chinese Tartary' and Korea is the Kingdom of Korea. The Island of Hokkaido, here identified as Terre d'Yedso, is joined with southern Sakhalin, suggesting a very primitive understanding of the region.

Just east of Hokkaido (Yedso) there is an unusual Terre de la Compagnie, reflecting preliminary sightings of the Japanese Kuril Islands in 1643 by the Dutch navigators Maerten de Vries and Cornelis Jansz Coen. Vries and Coen discovered the Kuril Islands while searching for Juan de Gama Land, supposedly a lost island northeast of Japan replete with silver and other precious metals.

The sea between Japan and Korea, whose disputed name, the 'Sea of Korea', 'East Sea', or the 'Sea of Japan,' is here identified in favor of Korea (Mer de Corée). 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 nationalistic dispute between the countries.

This map was published by Gilles Robert de Vaugondy in his Atlas Universel, Portatif et Militaire in the 1749 edition.


Gilles (1688 - 1766) and Didier (c. 1723 - 1786) Robert de Vaugondy were map publishers, engravers, and cartographers active in Paris during the mid-18th century. The father and son team were the inheritors to the important Sanson cartographic firm whose stock supplied much of their initial material. Graduating from Sanson's map's Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus of work. Vaugondys were well respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps in which they made excellent use of the considerable resources available in 18th century Paris to produce the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based upon their own superior geographic knowledge, scholarly research, the journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they commonly took pains to reference their source material. Nevertheless, even in 18th century Paris geographical knowledge was severely limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific northwest of America, and the interior of Africa and South America. In these areas the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative geographers. Speculative geography was a genre of mapmaking that evolved in Europe, particularly Paris, in the middle to late 18th century. Cartographers in this genre would fill in unknown areas on their maps with speculations based upon their vast knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers and navigators. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered many rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers being presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculatively cartography effectively ended with the late 18th century explorations of Captain Cook, Jean Francois de Galaup de La Perouse, and George Vancouver. After Didier died, his maps were acquired by Jean-Baptiste Fortin who in 1787 sold them to Charles-François Delamarche (1740 - 1817). While Delamarche prospered from the Vaugondy maps, he also defrauded Vaugondy's window Marie Louise Rosalie Dangy of her inheritance and may even have killed her. Learn More...


Robert de Vaugondy, G. Atlas Portatif, Universel, et Militaire (Paris: Vaugondy, Durand, Pissot) 1749.    


Very good. Blank on verso. Original press mark visible.


Pedley, M. S., Bel et Utile, p. 201, 409.