Jacques Nicolas Bellin; 1703-1772.
A first rank cartographer, Bellin worked for some fifty
years at the French Hydrographic Service (Dépôt de la Marine);
which he ran till his death. In this position he had unparalleled
access to prime cartographic data, often used to further his
own private business interests. He was succeeded at the head
of the Service by the very talented, and no less prolific,
His career was mainly devoted to charting and mapping coast
lines, harbors, sea lanes. Most of his publications were related
to nautical matters: maps for "Histoire Générale des Voyages"*
between 1747 and his death, "Atlas Maritime" in 1751, "Neptune
François" in 1753, "Petit Atlas Maritime" in 1764, for the
benefit of the French Navy, merchantmen, and the public at
He is known to have used informations from the best fellow
cartographers of his time, to complement the in-land parts
of his maps, notably: Guillaume Delisle and Jean-Baptiste
Bourguignon d'Anville, often giving them credit.
Fame, enormous output and fastidious quality of work, earned
him the appointment of "Hydrographer to the King" by Louis
XV of France. He was also a member of the Royal Society in
* A major work published by Antoine François Prévost d'Exile.
The first edition in 1747 was already of an encyclopedic size.
A major remodeling was done in the mid fifties, incorporating
some two hundred new maps (quite a few drawn by Bellin). Later
editions, till 1789, incorporated verbatim other authors travel
writings (e.g.: Gmelin's "Voyage au Kamchatka par la Sibérie"
was incorporated in volume 25 in 1779).
Carte du canal de Bahama
suivant les remarques de plusieurs navigateurs et en particulier
This very scarce map (12 3/8" X 8 ¼") was engraved for the
1768 "Description des Débouquements Qui Sont au Nord
de l'Îile de Saint Domingue", a small navigation guide
with 152 pages and 34 marine charts of the North Caribbean
As stated in the cartouche, it is clearly influenced by the
recent British mapping efforts of their new possession (at
the first treaty of Paris in 1763, concluding the French and
Indian War, England received Florida from Spain in exchange
for retro-ceding Havana and North Cuba to the Spanish. In
particular, the John Gibson map for the 1763 Gentlemen's Magazine,
famous for its depiction of the Florida peninsula as an archipelago,
seems to have been a major source for this work. Uncharacteristically,
north is on the right side of the map.
Notice that being in essence a marine chart, the map shows
very few inland details (which were not available anyway).
Notice also in the NW Florida peninsula the strange anomaly
of the Amazuro River shown to connect with the St Johns River.
No text on verso.