Map of the Old World, 1752


Didier Robert de Vaugondy (1723−86) was from a line of famous geographers and cartographers. He was the great-grandson of Nicolas Sanson (1600−1667) and the son of Gilles Robert de Vaugondy (1688−1766), with whom he created a universal atlas of 108 maps. This atlas, which was first published in 1757, included the world map of 1752 presented here. The efforts by the great explorers notwithstanding, the world as drawn by the cartographers of this period remained very incomplete, especially with regards to the American and Australian continents. In this map, for example, Alaska is missing, even though Russian expeditions led by the Dane Vitus Bering in 1728 and 1740 had led to the discovery of this part of the world. Similarly, Australia is depicted in the same way as it was on the maps of Joan Blaeu a century earlier, even though the Dutch explorer Abel Janszoon Tasman (circa 1603−59) had already established the contours of the entire continent. In Africa, the Niger River is depicted as discharging into Lake Chad, reflecting a geographical misconception that lived on until the beginning of the 19th century. This map of the world is part of the Collection d’Anville in the National Library of France. The official geographer of the king, Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville (1697−1782) was the creator of 211 maps, which, because of their great precision, revolutionized the world of cartography. In addition to making maps of his own, d’Anville gathered one of the most remarkable collections of cartographical documents in existence, which included both engravings and manuscripts. His collection came into the possession of the king in 1779 and later was transferred to the Ministère des Affaires étrangères (Ministry of Foreign Affairs). In 1924 it became the property of the map division of the national library. This remarkable collection of more than 8,500 documents has been digitized and is available on Gallica, the digital library of the National Library of France.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Didier Robert de Vaugondy and Antoine Boudet, Paris


Title in Original Language

Orbis Vetus in utrâque continente juxta mentem Sansonianam distinctus, nec non observationibus astronomicis redactus accurante Robert de Vaugondy


Additional Subjects

Type of Item

Physical Description

1 map : contours in color ; 47.5 x 71 centimeters


  • Scale about 1:71,000,000

Last updated: July 31, 2014