Rare separately issued chart of Singapore, pubilshed in Paris.
Fine French sea chart, drawn from an English Chart by J.W. Reed, who surveyed Singapore and environs between 1865 and 1869, aboard the H.M.S. Rifleman.
The chart is one of the earliest maps to focus in significant detail on the region, following only 20 years after John Turnbull Thomson and Samuel Congalton's original survey work in the region led to the publication of his monumental 2 sheet chart of the region in 1846, which was later revised and re-issued in 1855: www.raremaps.com/gallery/detail/41431dc
With the advent of the steamship in the mid-1860s and the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Singapore became a major port of call for ships plying between Europe and East Asia. With the development of rubber planting, especially after the 1870s, it also became the main sorting and export center in the world for rubber. By the end of the 19th Century, Singapore was experiencing unprecedented prosperity, as its international trade expanded dramatically.
The chart is quite rare on the market. We have been unable to locate an example of either the 1873 edition or 1877 edition of the map, nor any evidence of auction or dealer sales.
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.