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Rare French edition of F.W. Beechey's map of San Francisco Bay.

French edition of Beechey's very rare and important chart of San Francisco Bay, the result of the first scientific mapping of the Bay. Neil Harlow states that the chart had a wide influence upon later maps of the area. The chart, with copies and adaptations of it, served to the end of the Mexican period and formed the substantial basis of the earliest ones produced under the American regime. It was deficient only in the region beyond Carquinez Strait..." Harlow notes the chart of the entrance contains "additional hydrographic data pertinent to entering the port and reaching the chief places of anchorage. Accompanying the chart are elevation views depicting the approaches to the bay and the hazards to navigation."

Includes a chart of San Francisco Bay, plus smaller charts of the entrance to San Francisco Bay, Bodega Bay, and Monterey Bay. The series of coastal views and profiles includes the Golden Gate, and also Blossom Rock.

Warren Heckrotte notes that "Beechey's chart was first issued in 1833; there was a second issue with additions in 1851, which I have not seen. To what extent the additions on this chart reflect Beechey's chart I do not know, except for the extension of the coast which the plate for Beechey's chart would not accommodate."

The original Beechey chart is virtually obtainable, with the only example trading in modern times being the Warren Heckrotte copy in 2015.

Provenance: Warren Heckrotte.

Condition Description
Minor soiling and foxing.
Depot de la Marine Biography

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.