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1753 Bellin Map of Nicaragua and Costa Rica

Karte Von Den Laendern Nicaragua un Costa Rica Lur Allgemeinen Historie der Reisen Von M.B. Ing. De la Narine 1754 - Main View

1753 Bellin Map of Nicaragua and Costa Rica



Karte Von Den Laendern Nicaragua un Costa Rica Lur Allgemeinen Historie der Reisen Von M.B. Ing. De la Narine 1754
  c. 1750 (undated)     8.25 x 6.75 in (20.955 x 17.145 cm)


A beautiful map of Nicaragua and Costa Rica in 1753 by Jacques Nicholas Bellin. Covers From the Bay of Fonseca and the Mosquito Coast (Belize) south as far as Isla Colba in modern day Panama. In 1502 Columbus anchored a ship just off the coast of Limon and the area would become part of the Spanish Empire's 'Captaincy General of Guatemala.' The British established a protectorate on the eastern seaboard of 'The Rich Coast' in the mid-1600s, starting a rivalry with Spain that lasted for nearly 200 years. The latter half of the 1600s also saw bloody incursions by English, French and Dutch pirates.

Dreamed for mineral wealth, however, did not materialize, and Spanish trade restrictions, natural disasters and foreign attack had kept the economy unstable. Furthermore, the native populations would not succumb to slavery, unlike their counterparts to the North. Nonetheless, the Spanish began to realize the area's agricultural potential, and by the early 1700s had exploited it enough to form wealthy elites.

At the time this map was made a more destructive rivalry had emerged, one that would continue to ravage Central America well into the 20th Century: free trade 'liberals' vs. protectionist 'conservatives.' Bourbon-backed 'liberal' free-trade policies were popular with growers of new crops, merchants and exporters, while old-guard, Hapsburg-backed, 'conservative,' trade-monopolistic policies were backed by wealthy land owners. The often violent rivalry that emerged between liberals and conservatives has proven to be one of the most destructive aspects of the area's history. Almost seventy years after this map was made Nicaragua achieved independence from Spain in 1821 and joined the Federal Republic of Central America in 1823.

Published in the 1754 German edition of Abbe Provost's 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...


Provost, A., Allgemeine Historie der Reisen zur Wasser und zu Lande: oder Sammlung aller Reisebeschreibungen.. in Englischen zusammen getragen, und aus demselben und dem Französischen ins Deutsche übersetzt., c. 1750.    


Very good. Original fold lines. Blank on verso.