The Karte von den N.W. Amerikanischen und N.Oe. Asiatischen Kusten—a 1788 German edition of Captain James Cook's chart of the north Pacific and Alaska—proffers a detailed representation of the northwest American and northeast Asian coasts. Conceived by Lieutenant Henry Roberts and published by Franz Anton Schraembl in Vienna, the map crystallizes the expeditions led by Cook in 1778 and 1779, offering a view of the era's geographical knowledge and maritime exploration.
Cook's chart delineates the Bering Straits with an impressive level of detail, enhanced by exhaustive annotations on soundings—a testament to the thoroughness of Cook's scientific approach to hydrographic surveying. The map tracks Cook's voyages, showcasing specific dates and locales, thus presenting a chronological narrative of his exploration. In addition to Cook's travels, it also incorporates routes of other explorers, such as Bodega in Canada and Mackenzie in the Arctic Circle, thereby offering a comparative perspective of these pioneering voyages.
The Karte von den N.W. Amerikanischen und N.Oe. Asiatischen Kusten does not limit its scope to maritime explorations. It also includes information gathered by Samuel Hearne and others who probed the elusive Northwest Passage and the western extremities of Hudson Bay, by both land and sea. This incorporation of overland expeditions into the map exemplifies the convergence of different exploratory approaches in cartography during this period.
In sum, this map forms an invaluable record of late 18th-century explorations, reflecting the enduring curiosity and zeal for discovery that characterized this epoch. The Karte von den N.W. Amerikanischen und N.Oe. Asiatischen Kusten therefore serves as a remarkable visual testament to the intrepid spirit of the era's most distinguished explorers.
Schraembl was born and worked in Vienna, where he was a mapmaker in the latter half of the eighteenth century. He began his business in 1787, partnering with Franz Johann Joseph von Reilly. He is best known for his large format atlas, the Allgemeiner Grosser Atlas. The atlas was finished in 1800, after twenty years of compilation and composition--it was the first Austrian world atlas. While a notable work, the atlas did not sell well, plunging Schraembl into financial difficulty. In response, Schraembl expanded his offerings to include literature and art. Upon his death, Schraembl's firm was taken over by his widow, Johanna, and her brother, Karl Robert Schindelmayer. From 1825, it was run by Franz Anton's son, Eduard.