Extremely rare chart of the Gulf Coast, extending from Port Charlotte and Tampa Bay to the Mouth of the Mississippi River. The map indicates that it is based upon the charts of Edmund Blunt. Includes sailing directions, soundings, light houses, capes, points, islands, shoals and a host of other coastal details. Extends inland to Mobile and Blakely and Lake Ponchetrain. This is a very unique chart. While we have previously handled Spanish and French charts of the Gulf which extend from Texas to West Florida, it is very unusual to have a map which shows the west coast of Florida (especially as far south as Tampa and Port Charlotte) on a chart which extends so for to the West. We have not been able to locate any other references to the map. A nice example, bearing the blue stamp of the original chart seller. One minor tear, archivally backed on the verso.
The Dépôt de la Marine, known more formally as the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, was the central charting institution of France. The centralization of hydrography in France began in earnest when Jean-Baptiste Colbert became First Minister of France in 1661. Under his watch, the first Royal School of Hydrography began operating, as did the first survey of France’s coasts (1670-1689). In 1680, Colbert consolidated various collections of charts and memoirs into a single assemblage, forming the core of sources for what would become the Dépôt.
The Dépôt itself began as the central deposit of charts for the French Navy. In 1720, the Navy consolidated its collection with those government materials covering the colonies, creating a single large repository of navigation. By 1737, the Dépôt was creating its own original charts and, from 1750, they participated in scientific expeditions to determine the accurate calculation of longitude.
In 1773, the Dépôt received a monopoly over the composition, production, and distribution of navigational materials, solidifying their place as the main producer of geographic knowledge in France. Dépôt-approved charts were distributed to official warehouses in port cities and sold by authorized merchants. The charts were of the highest quality, as many of France’s premier mapmakers worked at the Dépôt in the eighteenth century, including Philippe Bauche, Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, Rigobert Bonne, Jean Nicolas Buache, and Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré.
The Dépôt continued to operate until 1886, when it became the Naval Hydrographic Service. In 1971, it changed names again, this time to the Naval and Oceanographic Service (SHOM). Although its name has changed, its purpose is largely the same, to provide high quality cartographic and scientific information to the France’s Navy and merchant marine.