Finely executed French hydrographical map of the Palawan Islands, in the Philippines, based upon the surveys of William Thornton Bate (1818-1857), a British Royal Navy officer and surveyor who served in First Anglo-Chinese War and Second Anglo-Chinese War.
In autumn 1842, Bate was assigned to Commander Collinson on HMS Bentinck, who had been tasked with surveying the waters around the Chinese coast. In May 1842, he was involved in the attack on Chapu. This earned him a Mention in Despatches from Vice Admiral William Parker who commanded the force.
Bate returned to England in 1846, and took a series of scientific courses at the colleges at Woolwich and Portsmouth. He was promoted to Commander in 1848 and given command of HMS Royalist, with which he was to carry out further surveys of the Chinese coast. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society on 9 March 1849. One of Bate's final surveys was the island of Palawan, which resulted in maps and the Sailing directions for Palawan island and passage, being the result of the survey in H.M.S. Royalist, made between the years 1850-1854.
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.