Clive A. Burden LTD. Rare Maps, Antique Atlases, Books and Decorative Prints

The Mapping of North America

Mr. Philip D. Burden​
P.O. Box 863,
Chalfont St. Giles, Bucks HP6 9HD,
Tel: +44 (0) 1494 76 33 13

A large uncommon map by Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) that covers the majority of North America. Issued just prior to the French and Indian War it illustrates well French knowledge and claims to territory. The map was published by the French Hydrographical Office and bears the stamp of the Dépôt de la Marine with ‘prix trente Sols’.

Bellin was one of the most important and prolific French cartographers of the mid-eighteenth century and was appointed the first Ingenieur Hydrographe de la Marine, and also Official Hydrographer to the French King. His output was considerable. This map is particularly notable for its depiction of the west. It is mostly blank with the

‘Sea of the West’ (La Mer de l’Ouest) named but not delineated.

During the 1730s the French government sent Pierre Gaultier de Varennes, sieur de La Vérendrye on several expeditions to the west with the goal of finding a route through to the Pacific Ocean. Between him and his sons they explored as far south as the Missouri River.

There is also a River of the West flowing westward from Lake Winnipeg but ceasing near the Montagne de Pierre brillante suivant le report des Sauvages (mountain of brilliant stones as reported by the savages). The names of explorers responsible for discoveries are noted along the coasts. There is good detail of rivers, lakes, Indian nations, and forts in the interior. The handsome chart is adorned with a large, beautifully engraved title cartouche and a second cartouche contains the legend and three distance scales. His son François explored to the Rocky Mountains and the Saskatchewan River.

Whilst Bellin included the results of their voyages he had the presence of mind to note in legends that much of the west was not fully known. Much of this is rooted in the theories of a Sea of the West and a River of the West. The latter here indicated as flowing into the former. McCorkle, B.B. (New England) 755.4; McGuirk 46; Tooley MCC no. 96-764; Wagner (1937) no. 582.
BELLIN, Jacques Nicolas

Carte de l'Amerique Septentrionale Depuis le 28 Degré de Latitude jusqu'au 72. Par M. Bellin Ingenieur de la Marine et du Dêpost des Plans, Censeur Royal de l'Académie de Marine, et de la Societé Royale de Londres. M. DCC. LV. Avec une Description Géographique de cette Partie de l'Amerique

Paris, 1755
570 x 860 mm., with a small 19 mm. tear in the large lower margin, otherwise in very good condition.
Stock number: 9456


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