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.
Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) was among the most important mapmakers of the eighteenth century. In 1721, at age 18, he was appointed hydrographer (chief cartographer) to the French Navy. In August 1741, he became the first Ingénieur de la Marine of the Depot 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 Depot was the single most active center for the production of sea charts and maps, including a large folio format sea-chart of France, the Neptune Francois. He also produced a number of sea-atlases of the world, e.g., the Atlas Maritime and the Hydrographie Francaise. These gained fame, distinction, and respect all over Europe and were republished throughout the 18th and even in the succeeding century.
Bellin also came out with smaller format maps such as the 1764 Petit Atlas Maritime, containing 580 finely detailed charts. He also contributed many of the maps for Bellin and contributed a number of maps to the 15-volume Histoire Generale des Voyages of Antoine François Prévost or simply known l'Abbe Prevost.
Bellin set a very high standard of workmanship and accuracy, thus gaining for France a leading role in European cartography and geography. Many of his maps were copied by other mapmakers of Europe.