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The Mapping of North America

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BROUCKNER, Isaac

Nouvel Atlas De Marine Composé D'une Carte Generale, Et De Xii Cartes Particulieres, Qui Representent Le Globe Terrestre Jusqu'au 82e. Degré Du Coté Du Nord, Et Jusqu'au 60e. Du Coté Du Sud.  Le Tout Dressé Sur Les Observations Les Plus Nouvelles Et Les Plus Approuvées… Approuvé Par L'academie Royale Des Sciences A Berlin

Berlin, 1749-55
Folio (485 x 320 mm.), contemporary half calf over original brown paper boards, rebacked with raised bands, gilt ruled compartments with ornate central feature, red calf title label, recornered. With 14 plates (1 small called for plate of 4 compasses and a small exercise chart, 1 double page engraved key sheet and a large engraved wall map printed on twelve sheets, all in original colour, with the official stamp of the Prussian Academy. With 2 Key sheets (500 x 395 mm.) to the work ‘Carte Generale du Globe Terrestre … Basel: chez Jean Jaques Schorndorff, 1755, first sheet with engraved key map of the world and explanatory letterpress below in both French and German, the second sheet with letterpress table of the principal places of interest, in good condition.
The FIRST EDITION OF THE FIRST PRUSSIAN MARITIME ATLAS, COMPLETE WITH THE RARE SEPARATELY PRINTED KEY SHEETS. The atlas forms a twelve-sheet wall map of the world which measures 1290 x 2000 mm. There is no separate title-page, the title being found on the third sheet. A very rare work. Phillips refers to a facsimile edition of 1912 and states that ‘only three copies of the original atlas are known … to be in existence’. These were at the Library of Congress, the Nordenskiold Collection in Helsinki and in the library of the Grand Duke of Weimar. Since then further examples have been located but its scarcity can be measure by the fact that only two examples could be located in auction since the 1970s, indeed the ABPC records none! It is not found in the in the National Maritime Museum.

The map is the work of Isaac Brouckner (1686-1762) a cartographer born in Diegten, Switzerland. Through his life he worked as a ‘mechanic, seal engraver, globe-maker, geographer and cartographer in Paris, St. Petersburg, London, Berlin and Basle’. Amongst his earlier work was a globe made for the Empress of Russia in 1735. Indeed his experiences and connections in Russia are clearly displayed here in all the recent advances of knowledge in the northern Pacific, Bering Straits and arctic Russia. Brouckner was also appointed the geographer to Louis XV of France.

The map was prepared with the assistance of the Field Marshall Count Samuel von Schmettau (1684-1754). Phillips writes that Schmettau ‘did so much in Prussia to raise the level of the scientific undertakings, not only theoretical but practical, of the Berlin Royal Academy of Sciences during the eighteenth century … placed at Brouckner’s disposal all the sheets and memoirs that were available [in the Academy’s archives] which were dealt with in a masterly way by the geographer, with the result that a most creditable marine atlas for the time was prepared, which certainly deserves to be designated as the first Prussian marine atlas’. A later edition was published in The Hague in 1759.

The work comprises a general key map with table below giving the times of ‘sunrise in spring and summer and the time of sunset in autumn and winter for each degree of the sun’s declination from the Equator to 60 degrees’ (Koeman). Plate III with the title records the Bering Strait and Russia’s presence on the American coast in 1743. Middleton’s discoveries in 1742 in Hudson Bay are noted. The west coast of America is on sheet VII and displays the River of the West above the strait ‘decouvert par Martin d’Aquilar’. Georgia is incorrectly placed north of Charles Town. A particularly notable plate is that illustrating the whole of New Holland or Australia. As might be expected of the period it shows the continent connected to New Guinea and Van Diemen’s Land. The whole is engraved by Nicolaus Frdr. Sauerbrey (d.1771). The accompanying loose key sheets are engraved by Johann Rudolph Holzhalb (1723-1806) an engraver from Zurich. They are published by Jean Jacques Schorndorff (not in Tooley) in Basle, Switzerland, in 1755, after having been examined by Daniel Bernoulli (1700-82) the prominent Swiss mathematician and physicist. Bagrow-Skelton (1964) pp. 189 & 234; Koeman IV Os 1 (1759 edition); Nordenskiold I no. 39 (1759 edition); Phillips, Atlases, 612 & 4146; Shirley (2004) M.Brou 1a; Tooley’s Dictionary; Schneewind, W. ‘Der Basler Globenmacher Isaak Bruckner (1689-1762)’, in Der Globenfreund, Vienna, 2, 1953, pp. 22-29.
Stock number: 8826

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