1772 Vaugondy - Diderot Map of Asia and the Northeast Passage

Nouvelle représentation Des Côtes Nord et Est de l'Asie : pour servir d'éclaircissement aux Articles du Supplement de L'Encyclopedie qui concernent le passage aux Indes par le Nord. - Main View

1772 Vaugondy - Diderot Map of Asia and the Northeast Passage




Nouvelle représentation Des Côtes Nord et Est de l'Asie : pour servir d'éclaircissement aux Articles du Supplement de L'Encyclopedie qui concernent le passage aux Indes par le Nord.
  1772 (dated)     12 x 15 in (30.48 x 38.1 cm)


This is the Vaugondy map of Siberia, Kamchatka and the northeastern extremes of the Asian continent. The map is the third of the ten which Vaugondy supplied for Diderot's Encyclopédie. This seminal map series, exploring the mapping of North America, Asia, and specifically the Northwest and Northeast Passages, was one of the first studies in comparative cartography. As the map's title suggests, this one was intended to clarify the articles in the Encyclopédie that pertained to European efforts to discover a viable northeast passage to the East Indies. The Northeast Passage, much like America's Northwest Passage, was a long sought after sea route through the Arctic that would save European merchantman the expense of rounding Africa in order to access the trade riches of East Asia.

This is a comparative map; the main map shows what was at that time the state of the art cartography of the region, largely derived from J. N. De l'Isle and Philippe Buache. It notes the location of Peking (Beijing) and a relatively accurate depiction of the Korean Peninsula. Japan is shown, with Nagasaki, Osaka and Iedo (Tokyo) labeled. Interesting features include an insular Iesso north of Japan, separated from the mainland by a 'Strait of Tessoy' roughly corresponding to the Strait of Tartary. Thus Iesso here can be understood as an early depiction of Sakahlin Island; the Kuril Islands are marked and named as well. Part of the northwest coast of North America is shown, separated from Asia by a strait in which appears the island of Puchochotski, here spelled Puchochotsks.
The Mysterious Island of Puchochotski
This is a crescent shaped island shown here in the strait between Asia and America. It was mapped on only a few obscure Russian manuscripts in the second decade of the 18th century, and was probably derived from the discoveries of Petr Popov, who was sent from Anadyrsk to the Chukchi Peninsula in 1711 to reconnoiter and negotiate with the Chukchi Tribes. Popov returned with indigenous reports of a large island one day's voyage east of the Peninsula - without question representing Chukchi knowledge of the Behring Strait and Alaska - marking this as one of the earliest published maps to illustrate Alaska based upon experiential knowledge.
Echoes of Strahlenberg
Both of the inset maps shown here are ultimately derived from the work of the Swedish officer, linguist, cartographer and hard-luck-case Philipp Johann von Strahlenberg, whose Russian captivity resulted in the earliest accurate mapping of Siberia and Russian Tartary. Inset No. I is credited to the map of the Tatar Empire appearing in the Histoire genéalogique des Tatars issued by Leyden publisher Kallewier in 1726: both the map and the genealogical history were in fact plagiarized from Strahlenberg's work, stolen in 1715. Inset No. II is copied from the 1725 map of Nuremberg mapmaker J.B. Homann, whose source for his cartography is traced to the 1718 map which Strahlenberg produced to replace the work stolen in 1715. (Indeed, this and Homann's map represent our only glimpse of Strahlenberg's 1718 map, which is also lost.)
The Chukchi Peninsula
contrasting sharply in each of these three maps is the depiction of the Chuchki Peninsula, variously spelled 'Tchutski,' 'Tzchalatzki,' and 'Tzuktschi.' This first shows up in Strahlenberg's lost 1715 map (as shown in inset No. I) reappears in a revised form in his lost 1718 map (as shown in inset No. II.) The main map retains the peninsula, in still another form adopted by De l'Isle.
Publication History and Census
This map is part of the 10 map series prepared by Vaugondy for the Supplement to Diderot's Encyclopédie, of which this is plate 3. We are aware of two states of this map: a second includes the page number 162. A fully re-engraved plate dated 1779 with the imprint of Livorno engraver Spadaccini is also known. The present example, with page number, corresponds to the second state. The Supplément à l'Encyclopédie is well represented in institutional collections. We see two examples of this state of the separate map catalogued in OCLC.


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 maps, Gilles, and more particularly Didier, began to produce their own substantial corpus. Vaugondys were well-respected for the detail and accuracy of their maps, for which they capitalized on the resources of 18th-century Paris to compile the most accurate and fantasy-free maps possible. The Vaugondys compiled each map based on their own geographic knowledge, scholarly research, journals of contemporary explorers and missionaries, and direct astronomical observation - moreover, unlike many cartographers of this period, they took pains to reference their sources. Nevertheless, even in 18th-century Paris, geographical knowledge was limited - especially regarding those unexplored portions of the world, including the poles, the Pacific Northwest of America, and the interiors of Africa, Australia, and South America. In these areas, the Vaugondys, like their rivals De L'Isle and Buache, must be considered speculative or positivist 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 lands with theories based on their knowledge of cartography, personal geographical theories, and often dubious primary source material gathered by explorers. This approach, which attempted to use the known to validate the unknown, naturally engendered rivalries. Vaugondy's feuds with other cartographers, most specifically Phillipe Buache, resulted in numerous conflicting papers presented before the Academie des Sciences, of which both were members. The era of speculative 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 defrauded Vaugondy's window Marie Louise Rosalie Dangy of her rightful inheritance and may even have killed her. More by this mapmaker...

Denis Diderot (October 5, 1713 - July 31, 1784) was a French Enlightenment era philosopher, publisher and writer. Diderot was born in the city of Langres, France and educated at the Lycée Louis le Grand where, in 1732, he earned a master of arts degree in philosophy. Diderot briefly considered careers in the clergy and in law, but in the end chose the more fiscally challenge course of a writer. Though well respected in philosophical circles Diderot was unable to obtain any of the government commissions that commonly supported his set and consequently spent much of his life in deep poverty. He is best known for his role in editing and producing the Encyclopédie . The Encyclopédie was one of the most revolutionary and impressive works of its time. Initially commissioned as a translation of Ephraim Chambers' Cyclopaedia, or Universal Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, Diderot instead turned into a much larger and entirely new work of monumental depth and scope. Diderot's Encyclopédie was intended to lay bare before the common man the intellectual mysteries of science, art and philosophy. This revolutionary mission was strongly opposed by the powers of the time who considered a learned middle class it a threat to their authority. In the course of the Encyclopédie production Diderot was imprisoned twice and the work itself was officially banned. Nonetheless, publication continued in response to a demand exceeding 4000 subscribers. The Encyclopédie was finally published in 1772 in 27 volumes. Following the publication of the Encyclopédie Diderot grew in fame but not in wealth. When the time came to dower his only surviving daughter, Angelique, Diderot could find no recourse save to sell his treasured library. In a move of largess, Catherine the II Russia sent an emissary to purchased the entire library on the condition that Diderot retain it in his possession and act as her "librarian" until she required it. When Diderot died of gastro-intestinal problems 1784, his heirs promptly sent his vast library to Catherine II who had it deposited at the Russian National Library, where it resides to this day. Learn More...


Supplement to Diderot's Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers..    


Very good condition. Original centerfold as issued. Original wide clean margins. Platemark visible. Blank on verso.


Pedley, Mary Sponberg. Bel et Utile: The Work of the Robert de Vaugondy Family of Mapmakers. 402.