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1858 Wüllerstorf-Urbair Map of the Nicobar Islands, 'Novara' Expedition

Indischer Ocean Generalkarte der Nicobaren. / [General Map of the Nicobar Islands]. - Main View

1858 Wüllerstorf-Urbair Map of the Nicobar Islands, 'Novara' Expedition


Island paradise in the Indian Ocean.


Indischer Ocean Generalkarte der Nicobaren. / [General Map of the Nicobar Islands].
  1858 (dated)     30 x 20 in (76.2 x 50.8 cm)     1 : 450000


This is a rare 1858 Baron Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair map of the Nicobar Islands, an Indian Ocean paradise popular with scuba divers. The map is one of a series of maps of Indian Ocean islands compiled during the Austrian Novara Expedition (1857 - 1859). Several of the islands and bays on this map, outlined in thick black lines, were the subject of their own maps in this series. This map includes an explanatory note and legend with detailed navigational information such as the latitude and longitude of different islands in the Nicobars and numbers on the map indicating the hourly speed of the current in stagnant or falling water.
The Nicobar Islands
The Nicobar Islands are in the eastern Indian Ocean, close to Sumatra. They were included in the early 17th century Mao Kun map of the Zheng He Voyages (鄭和航海圖). Various colonial powers tried to lay claim to the islands, including Austria in the 1770s - 1780s, and, most successfully, the Danish, who saw the islands as an extension of their trading colony at Tranquebar on the Indian subcontinent. As a result, the Danes completed the most extensive mapping of the islands, and an 1846 Danish map is referred to in the legend here. The black anchors on the map show where the Danish ship had anchored, while the red anchors show where the Novara anchored twelve years later.
The NovaraExpedition of 1857 - 1859
The Austrian Navy frigate Novara under the command of Baron Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair (1816 - 1883) circumnavigated the globe between April 30, 1857 and August 26, 1859. The ambitious scientific voyage included several well-known scientists, among them a geologist, an ethnologist, and a zoologist. It had the support of high-level Austrian nobles, officials, and scientists, including Alexander von Humboldt. Many items collected on the voyage were later housed in museums in Vienna, especially the imperial Naturhistorisches Hofmuseum.

Aside from von Wüllerstorf-Urbair's own account of the voyage, mentioned below, a report stretching to 21 volumes on various aspects of the journey (zoology, anthropology, geology and paleontology, linguistics, etc.) was presented to the Viennese Academy of Sciences and published for the public. An abridged three volume account was also published by Dr. Karl von Scherzer in English and German. The long-term impact was considerable, especially in the sciences. Among other results, Scherzer brought back to Austria an extensive collection of coca leaves that he gave to a graduate student, Albert Niemann, who was the first to isolate cocaine. In 2004, the Novara was featured on the 20 Euro coin.
Publication History and Census
This map was printed by the K. K. Hof- und Staatsdruckerei (the Imperial Royal State Printing Office) and is attributed to Baron Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair. It also carries the seal of the Hydrographische Anstalt (Hydrographic Institute) in Vienna. Although it is dated to 1858 and usually cataloged as such, it likely was printed after the voyage's completion and sometimes is cataloged as 1862. It is held by a number of libraries and universities in Europe and is scarce to the market.


Baron Bernhard von Wüllerstorf-Urbair (January 29, 1816 – August 10, 1883) was an Austrian naval officer and later Minister of Trade. Wüllerstorf-Urbair was born in Trieste, then ruled by Austria, and later returned to Italy to manage the naval observatory in Venice. He was made captain and Commodore of the Novara for its 1857 – 1859 circumnavigation of the globe, which he wrote about in a book titled Journey of the Austrian Frigate Novara around the Earth in 1857, 1858, 1859 under the command of Commodore B. von Wüllersdorf-Urbair (German title Reise der oesterreichischen Fregatte Novara um die Erde…). Learn More...


Very good. Some foxing and toning along original centerfold and at margins.


OCLC 71458752, 165830686, 842095694.