First state of Bellin's important chart of Florida, the Gulf Coast, Caribbean and Central America.
Nicolas Bellin worked as the Depot de la Marine's senior hydrographic engineer beginning in 1721. Bellin wrote a 5 volume treatise on Gulf Navigation in 1749, which is notable for its harsh treatment of Henry Popple's map of North America. This example of Bellin's map of the Gulf Coast is drawn from the work of Valentin Devin and other French mapmakers who plied the coastlines in the early 18th Century.
Bellin abandons the treatment of the southern part of Florida as an Archipelago popularized by Buache, Moll and others. His rendition of Florida is seemingly even more bizarre than its predecessors. Many names along the coast and excellent detail, including soundings, rhumblines and detailed observations. The directions of the currents are also shown. Colored based upon territorial possessions.
The present example is apparently the first state, pre-dating the addition of the Depot de la Marine stamp and the addition of the price (Trente Sols) to the chart.
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.