Rare separately issued chart of Singapore and neighboring islands, pubilshed in Paris.
The first edition of the map was published in 1866, utilizing French and Engish sources. Among other features, the maps prominently note the two lightouses erected under the direction of John Turnbull Thomson.
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: /gallery/detail/41431dc
Originally issued in 1866, the map is apparently drawn from a rare British Admiralty Chart entitled SINGAPORE STRAIT By Staff Commander JW Reed Navg Lieuts TH Tizard... Assisted by the Officers of HMS Rifleman 1865-69.... /gallery/detail/36226
Thomson arrived in the Malay Straits in 1838 and was employed by the East India Survey. In 1841, he was appointed Government Surveyor at Singapore and in 1844, became Superintendent of Roads and Public Works. Thomson was responsible for the design and construction of a number of notable engineering works including bridges, roads, and hospitals. He conducted the allotment survey of Singapore, the topographical survey of the island of Singapore and its dependencies, and the marine survey of the Straits of Singapore and the east coasts of Johore and Penang. His outstanding achievement was the erection of the Horsburgh Lighthouse on Pedra Branca.
The chart appeared one year prior to the establishment of the Straits Settements as a separate British Colony on April 1, 1867. 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 extends to Johore, Battam, Bintang, Rempang, Galang, Jombol, Suji, Sanbon and neighboring islands, depcting coastal features, soundings, light houses, sailing directions and a host of other information.
The chart is quite rare on the market. While we locate reference to the chart in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society in 1868, noting the accession of the chart, we have been unable to locate any surviving examples. While OCLC notes an example at the British Library of the 1866 edition of the map, the on line description references a photo copy of two charts on a single sheet, with the sheet being of a much smaller dimension than offered here.
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.