Sign In

Forgot Password Create Account

One of the Earliest Maps Lithographed in India -- From the "Father of the Indian Surveys"

Extremely rare chart of the area between Sumatra and Lucepara Island, as surveyed by Captain Daniel Ross, one of the most prolific chart makers of his time.

While apparently printed in Calcutta in August 1819, this chart was still apparently in use in December 1837, according to the pencil annotations at the bottom of the map.

The name Lucepara dates back to the 16th Century and can be found in a number of early accounts of the region, including Hakluytus posthumus: or Purchas his Pilgrimes . . . . Ross notes that:

In the Survey of the Part which is between Lucepara Sands & the Sumatra shore I was assisted on board the Discovery by Lieutt. P. maughan, Assistant Surveyor and by Lt. Jno. Crawford Comnandg. the Investigator. D.R.

Captain Daniel Ross was regarded as "the Father of the Indian Surveys." Ross founded the Bombay Geographical Society and led the survey of the coasts of China (1807), Paracels with part of the coast of Cochin China and coast of Palawan (1810), Straits of Malacca (1819) coast of Tenasserim, Mergui Archipelago, Saya de Malha Bank and Rangoon (1825). His charts form the foundation of the General Charts of Captain Horsburgh.

The map was almost certainly printed by lithography in Calcutta.   Dawson’s Memoirs of Hydrography states “In Ross’s time, the Government of India used to strike off a few copies of his charts at Calcutta by lithography, and send the originals to the India House for engraving and publication.”

In 1825, Ross was appointed the Marine Surveyor General for the East India Company, and remained in tis command until November 1833.

In discussing the importance of the contributions of the Indian Navy in the charting of the region, Captain Jervis of the Bengal Engineers stated at a meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science (August 26, 1838):

The maritime surveys which have been made by the East India Company's naval officers are honourable to the sprit of the great public body whose desire they were instituted. A series of charts of the entire coast of China, by my friend Captain Daniel Ross, Indian Royal Navy, and others, illustrating the ports, rivers and coasts, from Cochin China and throughout the Malayan Archipelago to the confines of India, by Captains Crawford, Robinson and Ross, are highly useful to the navigators who frequent those seas. . .

Interesting manuscript additions and chinese characters in the lower right corner.

The engraver is listed as John  Bateman.  Bateman's name turns up on documents showing him in Calcutta as early as August 1799.  Bateman shows up as the engraver for many of Horsburgh's maps.

The map notes that it was "Published by James Horsburgh Hydrographer to the Honble. E. I. Compy. 2nd August 1819 According to Act of Parliament."  The failure to list a printing location is further evidence that it was likely printed in Calcutta, as the East India Company had skilled copper engravers working in London at the time.

Condition Description
Printed and manuscript chart on linen, with green silked edges. Some soiling.
Daniel Ross Biography

Daniel Ross (1780-1849) was a renowned marine surveyor in the service of the East India Company. His precision and skill were lauded by contemporaries, including those at the Royal Navy’s Hydrographic Office, and he was known as “the Father of the Indian Surveys.”

Ross’ mother was a freed slave from Jamaica. He was the illegitimate son of a Jamaican merchant, Hercules Ross. At 15, Daniel joined the Bombay Marine and quickly gained a reputation for being clever and studious.

From 1806, Ross was employed in surveys of the coast of China, including the Boahi Sea and Guangdong. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1822 and, a year later, appointed Marine Surveyor General at Calcutta (Kolkata). Between 1823 and 1833 he superintended the surveying of the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

Ross held the position of Marine Surveyor General until his resignation in 1833, when he retired to Bombay (Mumbai). There he served as President of the Geographical Society of Bombay from 1838 and, upon his retirement due to ill health in 1849, Honorary President. He was also a pioneer in nascent science of tidology, playing a role in the publication of the first tide tables 1833.