Second state of this rare sea chart of the Singapore Straits and environs, published by the Depot de la Marine.
The map is one of several charts prepared in the mid-1840s by Urban Dortet de Tessan, for the Depot de la Marine, utilizing contemporary English and Dutch sources.
The geographical focus of the map covers the southern tip of the Malay peninsula to the coast of Sumatra and from (roughly) Pulau Rangsnag to Pauau Mapur (Panjang).
The map covers the recently surveyed maritime routes south of Singapore, via the straits of Durian and Rhio (Riouw), towards the Dutch trading centers in Jakarta and the Pepper Ports of Sumatra.
The map is elegantly engraved, including several profile views for Singapore and additional profiles for Sumatra.
This chart precedes by one year an enlarged version of the chart issued in 1847, which gives a more detailed treatment of the Straits.
A later edition was issued in 1852.
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.