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The First Prussian Sea Atlas -- Forms a  12-sheet Wall Map of the World on Mercator's Projection

Rare sea atlas, published in Berlin. 

This work is one are the first to show a cartographic reference to Bering's second voyage, although grossly distorted.

Each map with a small ink stamp of crowned eagle in lower right corner, identified as a Prussian revenue stamp.  Offered with the prospectus, entitled: 

Nachricht über den See-Atlantem welcher zu Berlin mit Approbation der Konigl. Preussischen Academie der Wissenschafften anno 1749 publiciret worden 

(Message about the sea atlas which was published in Berlin in the year 1749 with the approval of the Royal Prussian Academy of Sciences).

This little-known wall map of the world is of great importance for mid-eighteenth century cartography. It was prepared under the auspices of the Berlin Academy of Sciences under the direction of Field Marshall Count Samuel von Schmettau by the Swiss geographer Isaac Brouckner, who served as geographer to Louis XV.   Writing about the Library of Congress's acquisition of the 1759 Dutch edition of the atlas in 1950, Walter Ristow wrote:

A little-known Dutch edition of Isaac Brouckner's Nouvel atlas de marine, first published in 1749, was also added by purchase. . . .Only three copies of the original edition were known to Dr. Max Groll in 1912 when he reproduced it in facsimile . . . One of the three  copies was in the Library of Congress. The 1759 Dutch edition contains the same  general chart of the world and twelve detailed sheets on the scale of 1:21,000,000 that are found in the 1749 edition.

This first maritime atlas published in Germany on the Mercator projection has the parallels of latitude and the meridians of longitude drawn at each degree to facilitate the  plotting of positions. . . 

 The atlas was prepared by the Swiss cartographer, Isaac Brouckner, under the auspices of the Berlin Academy of Sciences  and under the direction of Field Marshal= Count Samuel von Schmettau, to whom it was dedicated. Count von Schmettau played an influential role in raising the level of scientific investigation in Prussia by reorganizing the Berlin Academy.

In 1748, Frederick the Great placed a censorship on all maps published and sold in Prussia. This measure, while it was directed against the importation of poor and inadequate cartographical materials published at Nuremberg, imposed upon the Academy at Berlin the duty of publishing good and accurate maps. The Nouvel atlas de marine was prepared in response to this need. It reflects not only first hand knowledge of contemporary sources,  but also information based on previously unpublished data which Count von Schmettau placed at Brouckner's disposal.


The work is rare: Phillips refers to a 1912 facsimile edition, prepared by Dr M. Groll in which Groll states that “only three copies of the original atlas are known… to be in existence”. Those copies were located in the Library of Congress, the Nordenskiold Library at Helsingfors, and in the library of the Grand Duke at Weimar. Two additional copies have appeared in the market in the past 25 years. OCLC records only one institutional example; that in the University of Bern, Switzerland.

We were unable to locate any reference to the prospectus in any institutional collections.

Provenance:  Warren Heckrotte.  Prospectus acquired separately.


Condition Description
12 sheets, unjoined, plus key sheet and prospectus. Original boards present, but detached. Sheets loose.
Phillips, Atlases, 4146; Shirley, British Library, M.BROU-1a
Isaac Brouckner Biography

Isaac (sometimes Isaak) Brouckner (sometimes Bruckner) (1686-1762) was a Swiss tradesman, mapmaker, and globe maker. His father was a preacher, but Isaac focused on apprenticeships with a belt maker, a stone cutter, and a mechanical specialist. These skills allowed him to shift toward the creation of instruments. His first known globe was made from 1722-5; he then presented the gilt-copper globe in Paris, at the Académie des Sciences. As a result, Brouckner was named a correspondent of the society and was made Royal Geographer to Louis XV. Brouckner then traveled to St. Petersburg and their Academy of Sciences at the invitation of Leonhard Euler. While there, he produced several maps and instruments, as well as taught mechanics. He left Russia in 1745 for Western Europe. Next, he was employed by the Academy of Sciences in Berlin on the first Prussian sea atlas. Finally, in 1752, he returned to Basel, where he was named to the faculty of the university there. He lectured on geography, mechanics, and geometry. In 1754-5, he and mathematician Daniel Bernoulli collaborated on a world map and a globe.