Detailed chart showing the area between the Straits of Banca and Sunda Strait, which appeared in Laurie & Whittle's East-India Pilot, or Oriental Navigator . . .
The Sunda Strait was an important shipping route used especially by the Dutch East India Company, who considered it a gateway to the Spice Islands during the late eighteenth and early seventeenth centuries. The famous volcanic island of Krakatoa (labeled here as "Cracatoa") is shown at the bottom left of the map. Also shown is the island labeled "Thwart the Way", the former Dutch name for the present-day island of Sangiang.
The map extends south to the northern coastline of Java, including the Dutch East India Company (VOC) headquarters in Batavia (Jakarta).
"The Thousand Islands", just north of Java, was the site of several clashes between the Dutch and British forces, whose string of 105 islands were used by European forces as shipyards, sanitariums, quarantine facilities and fortress sites.
The top right corner of the map shows the "Entrance of Gaspar Straits", which connects the Java to the South China Sea. A small inset on the left-hand side of the map entitled "Plan of the Bay Between North Island & The Three Sisters by Captain Lestock Wilson".
Robert Laurie (ca. 1755-1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818) formed their Fleet Street, London-based firm upon the 1794 death of their employer Robert Sayer, himself one of the dominant print and mapmakers of the last half of the 18th century.
Laurie & Whittle started managing Sayer's business as early as 1787. They took over all managerial duties when Sayer's health flagged in 1792, and they changed the imprint in 1794 upon his death. Sayer left the two a 21-year lease on the shop (at £100 a year) and on Sayer's Bolt Court premises, as well as an option to acquire stock and equipment at a preferential price of £5,000 payable over three years.
Robert Laurie retired from the firm in 1812, and his role was assumed by his son, Richard Holmes Laurie (1777-1858). The younger Laurie worked with James Whittle until the latter died in 1818. After R. H. Laurie died in 1858, Alexander George Findlay, FRGS (1812-1875) purchased the firm from his daughters. The firm continues today under another name, specializing in yachting charts.
Laurie & Whittle were prolific print and map publishers, and throughout their careers, they produced numerous very important and rare works. They carried on Robert Sayer's atlas business and were responsible for editions of The Complete East-India Pilot and The American Atlas.