Ottens Southern Hemisphere, made especially to commemorate Lozier Bouvet's 1738-9 voyage.
Fine map of the southern hemisphere, originally by Guillaume Delisle and here re-issued by Ottens.
Overall, there are two points of interest that a reader would notice right away. First, the hemispheric, circumpolar projection has the opposite effect of the more-common Mercator projection. The Mercator projection inflates land masses at the southern pole while showing regions closer to the Equator in their correct proportion. This projection, conversely, shows the Polar regions correctly and distorts Equatorial areas.
The other detail of note is the presence of the vast empty spaces at the pole. These blank spaces were a major innovation by the original mapmaker, Guillaume Delisle. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Delisle preferred blank spaces to conjecture or decorative embellishment. If he did not know the shape of a coast, he left it out or at least marked it with a dotted line. This approach is emblematic of the more scientific approach to mapmaking adopted in the eighteenth century.
This fascinating map captures the entire Southern Hemisphere from a polar projection. This rare variant example includes an additional text panel describing Lozier Bouvet's voyage, added to the right side of the map. The cartography features many of the contemporary myths and anomalies associated with the Antipodes. The map features excellent projections of Australia and New Zealand, along with a number of early routes of exploration from the 16th, 17th and 18th Centuries, including Tasman, Halley, Damiper, Magellan, Le Maire, Mendana and others.
The "port", allegedly discovered by Sir Francis Drake, otherwise known as Drake's Island, in 1577, lies to the southwest of Cape Horn. Some of the more notable features are Edmund Halley's sighting of Antarctic ice; Bouvet's large Cap de la Circoncision; Carpentaria attached to New Guinea; Tasman's route, along with a depiction of Tasmania as per Tasman, distinctly separate from Australia.
Emphasized on the map (heightened in orange) is the route of the 1738-9 voyage of Jean-Baptiste Charles Bouvet de Lozier (1705-86), commanding the ships Aigle and Marie, undertaken at the behest of the French East India Company. Bouvet's mandate was to find the apocryphal great southern continent. The text mentions Bouvet's discovery of icebergs between two and three hundred feet high and half a league to two or three leagues in circumference. On January 1, 1739, Bouvet encountered an icy promontory, which he named Cap de la Circoncision, at 54° South, below Africa, supposedly located next to one of the openings of his polar sea, where he had recorded his many great icebergs. An inset in the lower right of the map details this discovery.
Importantly, this was the first time land had been spotted beyond the 50th parallel South in the Eastern Atlantic. Bouvet, spotted Cap Circoncision, but severe fog and ice ensured that he was unable to explore the area further, and thus he was unaware that the landmass was part of an island, and not a southern continent. Bouvet lost sight of the cape and was unable to relocate it in the days that followed. For many decades after this map was printed, it remained a mystery as to the true nature of this discovery. Bouvet's plotting of his course was inaccurate, and in spite of several attempts, the cape was not encountered again until 1808, when it was proven to be an island. Named Bouvet Island, it is one of the World's most isolated points of land, very distant from both Africa and Antarctica, and is today administered by Norway.
The Ottens brothers, Reiner and Joshua, operated a successful printing partnership in the mid-eighteenth century (fl. 1726-1765). They began the venture in 1726, publishing maps and other prints as “R & I Ottens.” They specialized in the reprinting of others’ work, especially Guillaume De L’Isle. In 1750, Reiner died; his soon, also Reiner, took his place, but the firm began listing their works as “Joshua & Reiner Ottens.” The firm lasted until Joshua’s death in 1765. Joshua’s widow, Johanna de Lindt, sold their remaining stock of plates in 1784.