Striking World Map with the Latest Discoveries and a Historical Cartographic Lineage
Rare Louis Brion de la Tour edition of Jaillot's 1695 map of the world which has been significantly revised and updated to depict the routes of famous explorers in the second half of the eighteenth-century.
This map was based on a seventeenth-century world map published by Alexis-Hubert Jaillot. The original map was made for the Atlas Francois and was first published in 1695 and reprinted in 1696, 1698, 1700, and 1706. Geographically and aesthetically, the 1695 map is very similar to Jaillot’s larger world map of 1674, which was based on the work of Sanson. This Brion de la Tour edition still carries the engraver of the 1674 map’s name, which also appeared on the 1695 map. “Louis Cordier” is just below the western hemisphere.
Brion de la Tour’s double-hemisphere has significant updates as compared to the Jaillot works, however. This world map includes the routes of Captain James Cook on his three voyages of exploration between 1769 and 1780. It also has more complete Australian and New Zealand coastlines, as well as significant development in the coastline of Northwest North America. California is no longer shown as an island, and the hypothetical shores of a great southern continent have been removed.
With the exception of the elimination of California as an island, all of these updates were at least partially thanks to the voyages of James Cook. Cook circumnavigated New Zealand on his first voyage, creating a map used into the twentieth century, and also was the first European known to have contacted the east coast of Australia. Near the Antarctic Circle, which Cook crossed three times on his second expedition—the first ship to do so, there are icebergs which Brion de la Tour calls islands, plains, and mountains of ice. Finally, the map includes Hawai’i, contacted by Cook’s crew on his third voyage.
Cook also features prominently in the paratext of the map. In the title block running along the top edge, Brion de la Tour explains that the map is updated according to Cook’s voyages and those that traveled with him and who were sometimes separated from him en route. In the ornate cartouche between the hemispheres at the bottom edge are two mermaids guarding the text within. It explains that the routes pricked on the map are those of Cook, Clarke (sic.) and Gore, and Furneaux, who served with Cook on his third and second voyages respectively. Cook is also mentioned in a note about the projection that runs along the bottom edge of the map.
At the top join of the hemispheres are two angels trumpeting in the clouds. Their cartouche bears the royal coat of arms and includes Jaillot’s dedication to the King of France.
This edition of the map is very rare. We note the existence of several examples with a date of 1790, but this is the first time we have seen the map updated to include Cook's information with such an early publication date.
The Transit of Venus is one of the rarest predictable astronomical phenomena, occurring twice in eight years and then not again for over one hundred years (in a 243-year cycle). Observing the time it takes for Venus to transit across the sun can help to calculate the size of the solar system and the distance from the Earth to the Sun. In 1761, scientific societies sought to record the Transit from posts around the world. However, many of the observations were flawed or thwarted by the weather, especially those arranged, in haste, by the Royal Society of London. Determined to not repeat the same mistake, the Royal Society planned a South Sea voyage to view the 1769 Transit in concert with the Royal Navy, as the southern Pacific would be one of the places where the Transit was visible.
The Admiralty chose Lieutenant James Cook to command the expedition, based on his aptitude for charting and instrumentation. He was joined by Joseph Banks, a wealthy young botanist, and his retinue of scientists and artists. In addition to observing the Transit, Cook was secretly instructed to seek out and claim any potentially-useful territory or resources that his ship, Endeavour, came across.
Cook and his crew sailed from Plymouth on August 25, 1768. It sailed south, to Tierra del Fuego, and then to its destination for the Transit: Tahiti. There, three groups observed the Transit, although their results were imprecise. When the Endeavour left Tahiti in July 1769; on board was a new member of the party, the Rai’aitean priest and navigator Tupaia, along with his servant, Taiato.
The ship headed south, arriving in New Zealand in early October. There, Tupaia found that he could understand and speak with the local people, the Māori. However, this did not prevent several violent incidents that resulted in deaths. While charting the coastline, Cook and the voyage astronomer, Charles Green, observed the Transit of Mercury. The ship sailed round the southern tip of the South Island, proving it was not connected to a southern continent.
Next, the Endeavour set out east, encountering the east coast of Australia in April 1770. They were the first Europeans to do so. After stopping at a place they called Botany Bay, the ship turned north, skirting the coast. Endeavour ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef; while the ship was saved, they had to stop for repairs at Waalumbaal Birri, or Endeavour River. Here, the Europeans saw their first kangaroo and learned its name from the local people, the Guugu Yimithirr. They nearly ran aground again, but narrowly averted disaster and made for Jakarta, then known as Batavia.
In Batavia, many members of the crew became ill. More than two dozen men, including Sydney Parkinson, the voyage artist, the aforementioned Charles Green, and Tupaia, died in Jakarta or at sea soon thereafter. Weakened, the Endeavour called at the Cape of Good Hope and returned to the Thames in July 1771.
Cook’s first voyage was considered a success. The Admiralty chose to send him to the Pacific again, this time to focus on finding and charting Terra Australia incognita, if it existed. This time, Cook was in command of the Resolution and accompanied by the Adventure, captained by Tobias Furneaux.
The ships departed Plymouth on July 13, 1772. They made for the Cape of Good Hope and then sailed south, in search of land. They reached an ice sheet and could not find a break to sail through. The crew melted ice for fresh water and the expedition artist, William Hodges, drew eerie pictures of looming icebergs. On January 17, 1773, the ships crossed the Antarctic Circle, the first ships known to have done so.
Separated in fog, the ships headed toward New Zealand. They rendezvoused in Queen Charlotte Sound, where they traded with the Māori. The Māori inquired as to location of Tupaia and were sad to hear that he had died.
The ships returned to Tahiti, where they found the politics of the island had shifted and there was a new leader, Tu, to consult. Mai, a Rai’atean man, joined the Adventure, while Hitihiti joined the Resolution. The former became the first Polynesian to visit Britain, while Hitihiti returned home after sailing to Tonga, the Antarctic, New Zealand, and Easter Island.
Cook and his men next sailed to Tonga and then back to New Zealand. En route, the ships were separated again. Resolution left for southern waters without Adventure; Furneaux decided to return to Britain, leaving Cook in the Antarctic.
In December 1773 and January 1774, Resolution crossed the Antarctic Circle for the second and third times. They reached 71°10’ South, the farthest south any ships had sailed; the record would stand until 1823. He had decidedly proven that the great southern continent was nothing more than a myth.
Returning north, Cook called at Rapa Nui, or Easter Island, and his men marveled at the Moai, large statues that stand guard on the island. The Resolution returned to Tahiti, and then called at Niue, Nomuka, Vanuatu, New Caledonia, and Norfolk Island. After another visit to New Zealand, they sailed east to Tierra del Fuego. In the Atlantic, Cook named South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. On the homeward stretch, Resolution visited St. Helena and then anchored in Portsmouth on July 30, 1775.
After two Pacific cruises that observed the Transit of Venus, charted New Zealand, the eastern coast of Australia, and many islands; and disproved the existence of a vast southern continent, Cook’s third voyage focused on searching for the Northwest Passage. It was also tasked with the return of Mai, a Ra’iatean man and the first Polynesian visitor to Britain, who had joined Cook’s second voyage.
Cook in the Resolution was joined by Charles Clerke in the Discovery. Resolution sailed in July from Plymouth, rounded the Cape of Good Hope, visited the Kerguelen group in the Southern Indian Ocean, then called at Tasmania before heading to New Zealand.
In the spring of 1777, the ships sailed north, first to Tonga, and then to Tahiti. They left Mai on Huahine in a wooden house built for him by the crew. Cook continued north and became the first European to encounter the Hawaiian Islands, in January 1778.
During the warm months (in the northern hemisphere) of 1778, Cook and his crew charted the northwestern coast of North America, calling at Nootka Sound and Prince William Sound. They went up the Cook Inlet, which they thought could be a Northwest Passage, but it proved to be a false start. Heading west, they skirted the Aleutians and sighted the Asian coast. In January 1779, they returned to Hawai’i to resupply and rest.
In Kealakekua Bay, Cook was greeted warmly by the Hawaiians. They stayed for three weeks, enjoying the considerable hospitality of the people. In early February, the ships set out for another northern tour, but only a few days from Hawai’i the Resolution’s mast was damaged, forcing their return.
This time, they were not welcomed by crowds. During a dispute over a stolen boat, a scuffle broke out. When it was over, sixteen Hawaiians, four marines, and Cook were dead.
Clerke took command. He forced the Hawaiians to give him Cook’s remains, which were buried at sea. He then led the ships north, passing through the Bering Strait before turning back due to ice. In August of 1779, Clerke too died, of consumption, while near Kamchatka. A third commander, John Gore, then had to lead the ships home.
The ships sighted Japan on their southward journey before calling at Macao. There, they made sizeable profits by selling sea otter pelts, kickstarting a new industry. By April 1780, the Resolution and Discovery were back at the Cape of Good Hope. They returned to Britain via the Orkneys, anchoring in the Thames on October 7, 1780.
Louis Brion de la Tour (ca. 1743-1803) was a French geographer and demographer. Little is known about Louis’ early life, but some glimpses of his professional life survive. He did achieve the title of Ingénieur Géographe du Roi. Much of his work was done in partnership with Louis Charles Desnos, who was bookseller and geographical engineer for globes to the Danish Crown. He worked on the Indicateur fidèle ou guide des voyageurs, qui enseigne toutes les routes royales between 1762 and 1785. During his career he also worked on several atlases. By 1795, he had gained a pension from the National Assembly. Perhaps this pension was granted in part because his son, also Louis Brion de la Tour (1763-1823), was an engraver who made Revolutionary prints, as well as maps.
Alexis-Hubert Jaillot (ca. 1632-1712) was one of the most important French cartographers of the seventeenth century. Jaillot traveled to Paris with his brother, Simon, in 1657, hoping to take advantage of Louis XIV's call to the artists and scientists of France to settle and work in Paris. Originally a sculptor, he married the daughter of Nicholas Berey, Jeanne Berey, in 1664, and went into partnership with Nicholas Sanson's sons. Beginning in 1669, he re-engraved and often enlarged many of Sanson's maps, filling in the gap left by the destruction of the Blaeu's printing establishment in 1672.