With Contemporary Annotations Showing A Passage Through the Strait By A French Vessel
Rare chart of the Straits of Magellan, published by the French Depot de la Marine in Pars.
The chart is based upon the exploratory voyages and explorations of Phillip Parker King and Robert Fitz Roy, between 1826 and 1834, which included Charles Darwin.
Shows the Straits of Magellan and neighboring sounds, canals, etc. in remarkable detail, including place names, soundings and sailing directions.
The present example includes annotations in pen and in pencil, showing a passage through the Straits of Magellan, with triangulations and other details given. The voyage followed the various reaches illustrated on the chart, passing the lighthouse at Punta Arenas and taking triangulations off Mt. Aymond.
A remarkable survival -- made more interesting by the contemporary annotations of wha appears to have been a successful transit through the strait.
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.