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An 18th Century English Wall Map of Asia, Australia & The Indian Ocean

Nice example of the 6 sheet Laurie and Whittle wall map of Asia, Australia and the Indian Ocean, first published in Asia in 1794.

The map in its complete state covers an area from the eastern coast of Africa to the eastern coast of Australia and from the southern tip of Tasmania to the Arctic Circle.

The map features a decorative title cartouche at the top right and shows Australia prominently, albeit incompletely. Inset maps of King George Sound and southern Tasmania (showing the discoveries of the Duke in 1791), are placed on the Australian continent, while Australia's east coast is charted to show the recent discoveries by Captain Cook in 1770. A gap is shown between Tasmania and the mainland, reflecting Cook's charting of the coastline, rather than giving speculation about the existence of a strait between the two. The southern coast is completely uncharted.

The map was originally issued as a 4 sheet map, published by Robert Sayer, circa 1772. The original title was Asia According to the Sieur D'Anville, Divided into its Empires, Kingdoms & States, Showing the European Settlements in the East Indies. The title was revised to Asia and its Islands According to d'Anville ; Divided into its Empires, Kingdoms, States & Regions &c. with the European Possessions and Settlements in the East Indies and An Exact Delineation of all The Discoveries made in the Eastern Parts By The English under Captn. Cook , circa 1787. This chart was issued under the same title until as late as 1794, when it was apparently expanded to six sheets.

The title of the revised six sheet map is Asia and its islands according to d'Anville; divided into empires, kingdoms, states, regions, &c. &c. with the European possessions and settlements in the East Indies and an exact delineation of all the discoveries made in the eastern parts by the English under Captn. Cook, Vancouver & Peyrouse. London, Publish'd by Laurie & Whittle, No. 53, Fleet Street, Feby. 2d, 1799.

The National Library of Australia copy is shown here:

The Rumsey copy is shown here:

The map (with the lower 2 sheets) was apparently later also issued as an untitled 4 sheet map of the Indian Ocean, with 3 compass roses added to the lower sheets. The State Library of Queensland copy is illustrated here:

The map is quite rare on the market. This is the first example we have offered in more than 20 years of business.

Condition Description
6 sheets joined.
Tooley 854; NLA NK 1585 (bottom sheet only): See 1799 edition: - Hordern House October 2001 catalogue, item 26, col. illus.
Richard Holmes Laurie Biography

Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858) was the son of mezzotint engraver Robert Laurie, who had taken over Robert Sayer's publishing house with James Whittle in 1794. Richard Holmes Laurie joined in a partnership with Whittle when his father retired in 1812. The name of the firm then switched from Laurie & Whittle to Whittle & Laurie. Whittle died in 1818, leaving Richard Holmes to continue publishing alone as R. H. Laurie.

When the Hydrographic Office opened in 1795, it was tasked with creating and producing all the nautical charts for the Royal Navy so as to wean the Navy off dependence on foreign charts. By the 1820s, private publishers were augmenting HO charts and competing with them, including Richard Holmes Laurie. Richard gave up publishing anything except nautical materials by 1830. He also sold charts to Trinity House, the lighthouse and maritime safety fraternity. He died in 1858. 

The firm continued to print under the name R.H. Laurie even after 1858. Later, the firm was managed by Laurie’s draughtsman, Alexander George Findlay, and, later, Daniel and William Kettle.

James Whittle Biography

James Whittle (1757-1818) was a British engraver and map printer. Whittle was employed by Robert Sayer (ca. 1725-1794). Together with Robert Laurie (1755?-1836), he took on Sayer’s business when the older man died in 1794. The two traded together as Laurie & Whittle until 1812, when Laurie retired. They had specialized in sea charts and maritime atlases. Whittle then partnered with Laurie’s son, Richard Holmes Laurie, until he died in 1818.