1700 Wells Map of China and Tartary (w/ Siberia)

A New Map of Great Tartary, and China, with the adjoyning Parts of Asia. - Main View

1700 Wells Map of China and Tartary (w/ Siberia)


Cutting Edge Asian Geography for an English Audience.


A New Map of Great Tartary, and China, with the adjoyning Parts of Asia.
  1700 (undated)     14 x 19.75 in (35.56 x 50.165 cm)     1 : 18000000


This is Edward Wells' 1700 map of central and northern Asia. The map spans from the near east - Mesopotamia and Persia, and the frontier of Muscovy - to Siberia and Tartary, as well as China, Korea, and Japan.
The Best Sources
It is drawn primarily from Nicolas De Fer's 1696 wall map of Asia, and via De Fer, presented state-of-the-art cartographic information based on Nicolaes Witsen's 1687 map of Tartary. Though reduced to a single-sheet format, this map represented a simplified version of the most up-to-date cartography of central and northeastern Asia available in the 17th century, which was mpt significantly advanced until the c. 1710 maps of Strahlenberg.
De Fer's 1696 Wall Map
The weight of Wells' geographical information is drawn from Nicolas De Fer's monumental Asie, divisee selon l'etendue de ses principales parties, a 1696 wall engraved in Paris. De Fer's distinctive presentation of the Caspian Sea, and his presentation of Nicolaes Witsen's groundbreaking Siberian geography are here evident. The inset maps in the upper right, showing alternative theories of northeast Chinese and Siberian geography are based on the Jesuit reports of Martini and Verbiest, also copied (in reduced and simplified form) from the De Fer. Not only the delineations on this map but also the abundant annotations are largely faithfully translated from De Fer's map.
A State-Of-The-Art Siberia
The whole of the Asian Northeast - everything extending north and east from the Caspian Sea - is here derived from the 1687 map of Nicolaes Witsen, the first European with access to Russian sources for these remote regions. It is perhaps the paucity of data Witsen provides for the Pacific Coast south of the 50th parallel, that encourages the broad speculation on the present map. Witsen's book, Noord en Oost Tartarye ('North and East Tartary') was the century's most authoritative work on those regions.
The Inset Maps
In the upper right hand corner are two detail maps; both of these focus on the explorations in northern China of Verbiest, and are drawn virtually verbatim from the De Fer wall map. The lower reveals Verbiest's route from Peking to the Chinese frontier in northern Korea, in particular the cities of Leaotung and Ula - this representing the closest that the Jesuit cartographers had come to the Korean peninsula. The upper suggests an alternative mapping of the Yupi Peninsula, supposing that the island north of Japan (Hokkaido) might actually be a peninsula connected to mainland Asia.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by Sutton Nicholls for inclusion in Wells' 1700 A New Sett of Maps both of Ancient and Present Geography. This student atlas was successful and stayed in publication for many years thereafter. This example is of an early state, lacking plate number. As early as 1705, the map was edited to include the plate number '29' engraved below the dedicatory cartouche. There are nine examples of this map catalogued in institutional collections.


Edward Wells (1667 - 1727) was an English mathematician, geographer, and classical scholar based at Christ Church College, Oxford. Wells trained for the ministry but quickly found himself unsuited to religious life and instead applied for an academic position at Oxford, where he authored numerous well respected works on a wide range of mathematical and scientific topics. He tutored Prince William, the sickly son of Queen Anne, who was likely about 11 at the time this map was prepared. Wells dedicated nearly all of the maps in his atlas, A New Sett of Maps both of Ancient and Present Geography, to the young prince - quite possibly posthumously, as William died in July of 1700 shortly prior to the publication of the atlas. Nonetheless, Wells' geography proved popular and was published in number editions well into the 1730s. Learn More...

Nicolaes Witsen (May 8, 1641 - August 10, 1717) was a Dutch cartographer, diplomat, writer, businessman, and politician. Witsen was born in Amsterdam to the politically powerful Cornelius Jan Witsen, burgomaster, head bailiff and administrator of the Dutch West India Company. Witsen studied Law at the University of Leiden where he developed an interest in language and maps. He was highly educated and traveled in elite circle, befriending Oliver Cromwell, Andrew Vinius, Cosimo III de'Medici, Melchisédech Thévenot, and others. In 1662 he presented a paper at the Amsterdam Athenaeum Illustre arguing for the effect of comets on earthly life. Witsen joined the VOC (Dutch East India Company) became an expert on shipbuilding, composing several treatises on the subject. His passion, however, remained cartography, particularly the cartography of Asia. Having traveled in embassy to Russia, Witsen contrived to get special access to Russian records on the exploration of Siberia, including the heretofore unknown explorations of Semyon Dezhnev. He also acquired the diary of Maarten Gerritsz Vries, who had explored the coast of Sakhalin in 1643. The Vries diary was thereafter lost. This information he compiled into several influential maps and books on Asia which were extensively copied. One result of this work is the Witsen Peninsula - a narrow outcropping of land extending from Siberia that appears on many maps of the early 17th century. Later, Witsen became Mayor of Amsterdam, a position he held some 13 times, and under whose tenure arts flourished. Witsen died in Amsterdam and was buried near his country home in Egmond aan den Hoef. Learn More...

Frederik de Wit (1629 - 1706) was a Dutch Golden Age cartographer active in the second half of the 17th and the early 18th centuries. De Wit was born of middle class Protestant stock in the western Netherlandish town of Gouda. He relocated to Amsterdam sometime before 1648, where he worked under Willem Blaeu. His first attributed engraved map, a plan of Haarlem for Antonius Sanderus' Flandria Illustrata, was issued around this time. He struck out on his own in 1654. The first chart that De Wit personally both drew and engraved was most likely his 1659 map of Denmark, REGNI DANIÆ Accuratissima delineatio Perfeckte Kaerte van ‘t CONJNCKRYCK DENEMARCKEN. His great wall map of the world and most famous work, Nova Totius Terrarum Orbis Tabula appeared one year later. Following the publication of his wall map De Wit quickly rose in prominence as a both cartographer and engraver. He married Maria van der Way in 1661 and through her became a citizen of Amsterdam in 1662. Around this time he also published his first major atlas, a composite production ranging in size from 17 to over 150 maps and charts. Other atlases and individual maps followed. In 1689 De Wit was granted a 15 year Privilege by the Dutch States General. (An early copyright that protected the recipient's rights to print and publish.) He was recognized with the honorific 'Good Citizen' in 1694. De Wit died in 1706 after which his wife Maria continued publishing his maps until about 1710. De Wit's son, Franciscus, had no interest in the map trade, instead choosing to prosper as a stockfish merchant. On her own retirement, Maria sold most De Wit maps and plates at a public auction. Most were acquired by Pieter Mortier and laid the groundwork for the 1721 rise of Covens and Mortier, the largest Dutch cartographic publishing house of the 18th century. Learn More...

Sutton Nicholls (1668 - 1729) was an English draughtsman and engraver living in London in the end of ther 17th and the early 18th century. He is best known for having produced a large number of views of places and buildings in London for John Bowles' 1725 Prospects of the Most Considerable Buildings about London’ (1725), Nicholls was also published in Stow's ‘Survey.’ Nicholls drew and engraved some large general birdseye views of London, and a number of portraits. He engraved maps as well, his work appearing for example in Wells' geographical atlas. Learn More...


Wells, E., A New Sett of Maps both of Ancient and Present Geography, (London: T. w. Bonwicke) c. 1700.    


Very good. Some indications of old manuscript. Hand color.


OCLC 224651887. Rumsey 11181.032 (1710, second state).