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1794 Laurie and Whittle Nautical Map of the Straits of Sunda, Banca and Gaspar, Indonesia

A New Chart for Sailing between the Straits of Sunda or Batavia and the Strairs of Banca and Gaspar. - Main View

1794 Laurie and Whittle Nautical Map of the Straits of Sunda, Banca and Gaspar, Indonesia


Prominently shows the volcanic island of Krakatoa, which famously exploded killing nearly 35,0000 people in 1883 - and which may explode again with even more disastrous results.


A New Chart for Sailing between the Straits of Sunda or Batavia and the Strairs of Banca and Gaspar.
  1794 (dated)     27 x 20 in (68.58 x 50.8 cm)     1 : 420000


This is a fine example of Laurie and Whittle's 1794 nautical chart or maritime map of northwestern Java and eastern Sumatra, including the Straits of Sunda and the Strait of Banca. The map covers from the Strait of Banca southwards to Krakatoa (Cracatoa), the east as far as Batavia (Jakarta). Throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, this region was a major battleground between rival Dutch, British, and Portugese trading monopolies. The Dutch and British in particular contested over northwestern Java, with its easy access to regional spice, in particular pepper, ports. In 1602 the British East India Company established a trade entrepot at Bantam to contest Dutch East India Company (VOC) control based in nearby Batavia. The Dutch, allied with a local Sultan, eventually drove the English out Bantam and Java itself. By the end of the 18th century, when this map was made, the Bantam entrepot was little more than a name on a map - as seen here - while Batavia further east had risen, with a population of nearly one million, to dominate Java. In 1800, just six years after this map was published, the VOC was formally dissolved and the Dutch East Indies established in its place as a full-fledged national colonial venture. The British meanwhile established themselves in Bencoolen, on Sumatra, and later in Singapore and Malacca.

The region took on additional significance early in 1794, just before this highly detailed map was issued. Though continually at odds, the Dutch and English, in January of 1794 temporarily set aside their differences to battle piracy in the Sunda Strait Campaign. The Sunda Strait Campaign is officially considered an extension of French Revolutionary Wars in which French naval vessels operating out of Mauritius, abandoned by their government, turned to piracy and privateering, preying on English and Dutch vessels plying the narrow and vital Straits of Sunda. The French pirates disrupted trade in the region to such an extent that the Dutch and English formed a temporary alliance, presenting a united front and defeating the French pirates in the Battle of Sunda Strait. Ultimately the British took control of Maruitius and both the WIC and VOC actively discouraged subsequent piracy in the strait.

This map is also of interest for its detailed depiction of Krakatoa (Cracatoa), the volcanic island in the Straits of Sunda that famously erupted in 1883, obliterating the island and killing nearly 35,000 people. Today, constant volcanic activity has reformed the island, now called Anak Karakatoa or Child of Krakatoa. There is a very serious possibility that the island will once again explode. If this ever happens the catastrophe of 1883 will seem mild in comparison.

Laurie and Whittle prepared this chart for their 1799 issue of the East-India Pilot. Cartographically this chart is derived from earlier maps prepared for Jean-Baptiste d'Apres de Mannevillette's 1745 Neptune Oriental. It was subsequently updated and revised under Laurie and Whittle based on charts compiled by Captain Lestock Williams. The map offers rich detail including countless depth soundings, notes on the sea floor, commentary on reefs, rhumb lines, shoals, place names and a wealth of other practical information for the mariner. This map was registered by Laurie and Whittle from their offices at 53 Fleet Street, London, on May 12, 1794.


Laurie and Whittle (fl. 1794 - 1858) were London, England, based map and atlas publishers active in the late 18th and early 19th century. Generally considered to be the successors to the Robert Sayer firm, Laurie and Whittle was founded by Robert Laurie (c. 1755 - 1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818). Robert Laurie was a skilled mezzotint engraver and is known to have worked with Robert Sayer on numerous projects. James Whittle was a well-known London socialite and print seller whose Fleet Street shop was a popular haunt for intellectual luminaries. The partnership began taking over the general management of Sayer's firm around 1787; however, they did not alter the Sayer imprint until after Sayer's death in 1794. Apparently Laurie did most of the work in managing the firm and hence his name appeared first in the "Laurie and Whittle" imprint. Together Laurie and Whittle published numerous maps and atlases, often bringing in other important cartographers of the day, including Kitchin, Faden, Jefferys and others to update and modify their existing Sayer plates. Robert Laurie retired in 1812, leaving the day to day management of the firm to his son, Richard Holmes Laurie (1777 - 1858). Under R. H. Laurie and James Whittle, the firm renamed itself "Whittle and Laurie". Whittle himself died six years later in 1818, and thereafter the firm continued under the imprint of "R. H. Laurie". After R. H. Laurie's death the publishing house and its printing stock came under control of Alexander George Findlay, who had long been associated with Laurie and Whittle. Since, Laurie and Whittle has passed through numerous permeations, with part of the firm still extant as an English publisher of maritime or nautical charts, 'Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd.' The firm remains the oldest surviving chart publisher in Europe. More by this mapmaker...


Laurie, R., and Whittle, J., The East-India Pilot, or Oriental Navigator, on One Hundred and Eighteen Plates: Containing a Complete Collection of Charts and Plans, &c., &c. for the Navigation not only of the Indian and China Seas, but of those also between England and the Cape of Good-Hope; Improved and Chiefly Composed from the Last Work of M. D'Apres de Mannevillette; with Considerable Additions, from Private Manuscripts of the Dutch, and from Draughts and Actual Surveys Communicated By Officers of the East-India Company A New Edition, Containing One Hundred and Five Charts. (London: Laurie and Whittle) 1797.    


Very good. Minor wear and verso repair along original centerfold. Original platemark visible. Some offsetting.