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Incorporating the Kaempfer-Sloane Japanese Map of the World Into The Great Buache-De L'Isle-De Vaugondy Polar Debate

Fascinating map created by Philippe Buache, illustrating the details gleaned form a manuscript map of the World in the possession of Sir Hans Sloane, which showed knowledge of the coastlines on either side of the Behring Straits.

While seriously questioned by later scholars as more likely a later compilation of information from European sources, the Sloane map was part of the contemporary debate regarding the existence and location of the Northwest Passage and Polar navigation in general.

This map was used by Buache to illustrate and discuss the information which appeared in a Japanese map, brought back to Europe by Engelbert Kaempfer from Japan in 1695 and later sold to the private collection of Hans Sloane in London, which showed the transfer of information from the Russians to the Japanese with respect to the regions shown in this map, and was part of the unpublished manuscript information purchased by Sloane at the time of Kaempfer's death. It was intended to illustrate Buache's overall thesis on the various sources of information available to modern mapmakers with respect to the mapping of these regions and the proper synthesis and reconciliation of the information available.

This map is listed as map VI in the Article CXV of the Mémoires pour l'histoire des sciences et des beaux arts, published by the French Royal Academy in November 1758, which constitutes the presentation of Philippe Buache on the topic of the mapping the Northwest Coast of America, Northeast Coast of Asia and contiguous polar regions, as part of the greater search for a Northwest Passage. The title of Buache's article is:

Considerations Geographiques & Physiques sur les nouvelles decouvertes au Nord de la Mer, appellee vugairement la Mer du Sud; avece des Cartes qui y sont relatives.

Buache's article immediately follows Article CXIV in Mémoires pour l'histoire des sciences et des beaux arts, published by the French Royal Academy, which constitutes the presentation of Joseph Nicholas De L'Isle to the Academy, the title De L'Isle's article is

Nouvelle Cartes des decouvertes de l'Amiral de Font, & autres Navigateures Espagnols, Portugais, Anglois, Hollandois, Francoise & Russes, dans les Mers Septentrionales, avec leur explication; qui comprend l'Histoire des Voyages, tant par Mer que par Terre, les Routes de Navigation, les Extraites des Journeaux de Marine, les Observations Astronomiques, & tout ce qui peut contribuer au progres de la Navigation; avec la Description des Pays, l'Histoire & les mouers des Habitans, le Commerce qu l'on y peut &c.


Philippe Buache Biography

Philippe Buache (1700-1773) was one of the most famous French geographers of the eighteenth century. Buache was married to the daughter of the eminent Guillaume Delisle and worked with his father-in-law, carrying on the business after Guillaume died. Buache gained the title geographe du roi in 1729 and was elected to the Academie des Sciences in the same year. Buache was a pioneering theoretical geographer, especially as regards contour lines and watersheds. He is best known for his works such as Considérations géographiques et physiques sur les découvertes nouvelles dans la grande mer (Paris, 1754).