A Fascinating Map Showing Bering's Discoveries and the River and Lake Systems in North America
"Carte Reduite de l'Ocean Septentrional Compris Entre l'Asie et l'Amerique Suivant les Decouvertes qui ont ete Faites par les Russes...", Bellin, Jacques Nicolas
Subject: Western North America & North Pacific Ocean
Period: 1766 (dated)
Publication: Hydrographie Francoise
Color: Hand Color
33.3 x 21.9 inches
84.6 x 55.6 cm
This captivating large-scale chart depicts the North Pacific Ocean from Japan and Russia to North America. Although the focus of the map is the discoveries of Captains Bering and Chirikof around Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, the map includes extensive information in North America, extending to Baffin Bay, Hudson Bay, and Lake Erie in the east and to Point Conception, California, and Fort Assumption along the Mississippi River (in present-day Tennessee) in the south. There are numerous notes of discoveries throughout the map, including a notation west of the Hudson Bay explaining that despite English reports of Admiral de Fuente's explorations, his discoveries could not pass "critical examination" and that the author had always regarded them as "fantastical."
The cartography of the lake and river systems in North America is fascinating. Bellin omits the Sea of the West that appeared on his 1755 map of Canada and the US, but includes a dotted line denoting the River of the West connecting to several rivers and lakes before reaching Hudson Bay. Just to the south is another dotted-line river extending east, but trailing off before connecting with the Missouri River. The Mississippi River connects to Lac Rouge and also reaches Hudson Bay through several rivers and lakes, creating a water route to the Gulf of Mexico.
The tracks and discoveries of Captains Bering and Chirikof are depicted, with Alaska shown in a similar "turtle shape" as seen on earlier maps by German professor Gerhard Friedrich Muller. The Gulf of Alaska is here named Mer de l'Ouest du Canada, one of the few maps to use this term. In Asia, Siberia is fairly well defined based on charts by Russian navigators, while Japan is presented in a rudimentary shape with Hokkaido entirely missing.
This is the first state. A rare and fascinating addition to any collection of the Pacific Northwest.
References: Kershaw #1125; Wagner #610; Tooley (MCC-96) #771; Falk #1766-1; McGuirk #133.
A nice impression on watermarked paper with light soiling and archival repairs to several long separations along the centerfold. There are additional archival repairs to a tear that enters 2" into image at bottom, another 2" tear near the center of the map, and a hole along the centerfold that is 1/4" wide by 1" tall, with minor loss of text.