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The Mythical Archipelago of Florida

Spectacular and highly detailed sea chart of Florida, the Gulf Coast and the Mississippi Valley, published by Nicholas Bellin.

This is one of the best examples of Florida as an Archipelago The region around the Mississippi Valley and Galveston Bay are also highly detailed for the period.

The map provides one of the most interesting large format depictions of Florida and the Gulf Coast at the conclusion of the French & Indian War. As noted in Flags Along The Coast (p.96) ,

Bellin's representation of Florida is incomparably more bizarre than the Spanish (mis)understanding of the Everglades as an archipelago, first seen on their manuscript maps 70 years earlier. Once captains like Jean Beranger ceased to sail the Gulf Waters, taking with them talented mapmakers like Valentin Devlin, France's preeminence began to fade. Even though their maps were highly regarded until the late eighteenth century, French cartographers never captured the excitement of the early era . . .

Bellin's chart of the region was one of the most detailed and widely disbursed charts of the region during the time period immediately after the French & Indian War.

Condition Description
Minor printer's crease at top right, just touching neat line between 88 and 89 degrees.
Jacques Nicolas Bellin Biography

Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) was among the most important mapmakers of the eighteenth century. In 1721, at only the age of 18, he was appointed Hydrographer to the French Navy. In August 1741, he became the first Ingénieur de la Marine of the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine (the French Hydrographic Office) and was named Official Hydrographer of the French King.

During his term as Official Hydrographer, the Dépôt was the one of the most active centers for the production of sea charts and maps in Europe. Their output included a folio-format sea atlas of France, the Neptune Francois. He also produced a number of sea atlases of the world, including the Atlas Maritime and the Hydrographie Francaise. These gained fame and distinction all over Europe and were republished throughout the eighteenth and even in the nineteenth century.

Bellin also produced smaller format maps such as the 1764 Petit Atlas Maritime, containing 580 finely-detailed charts. He also contributed a number of maps for the 15-volume Histoire Generale des Voyages of Antoine François Prévost.

Bellin set a very high standard of workmanship and accuracy, cementing France's leading role in European cartography and geography during this period. Many of his maps were copied by other mapmakers across the continent.