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 a unique access to prime cartographic data, which he 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, Rigobert Bonne.
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 large.
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 de l’Isle 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 London.
* 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 réduite des costes de la Louisiane et de la Floride.
This very large map (33 3/8" X 22 3/8") seems to have been designed for inclusion in the 1764 "Hydrogrphie Françoise" (numerous editions between 1755 and 1802).
The printing date of the present item is not known. However, it was clearly issued as a separate sheet.
There are no indication (such as glue residue) that it was ever bound in an atlas, and it bears on the bottom left a recommended unitary sales price (trente sols, or thirty sous).
Very rare, it shows a remarkable fantasy delineation for the Florida Peninsula, depicted as a complex archipelago. On the other hand, Louisiana and Cuba are both quite well delineated.
Remark that the coloring reflects the terms of the first Treaty of Paris of 1763 (end of the Seven Year War): Louisiana ceded by the French in 1762 to the Spaniards (bordered by the Mississippi and the Iberville River); and Cuba retro-ceded in 1763 to Spain by the British (swapped for Florida).
Notice that Pensacola (which soon becomes the capital city of West Florida) is not even mentioned. Notice also that the Matagorda bay area still bears the name of St Louis, in reference to the doomed 1684 Cavelier de la Salle expedition.
The inset shows the mouth of the Mississippi, with (at bottom right) a charming warning that depths are subject to changes…
No text on verso.