January 27, 2016

Small Map of Discoveries by the Russians between Asia and North America

This French map of Alaska, Siberia, and the North Pacific, published in 1747, was based upon geographical information gleaned from earlier Russian voyages. It was created by the French cartographer, Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703‒72), and published by the French author, Abbé Prévost. Trained as a hydrographer, Bellin was attached to the French Marine Office and specialized in producing maritime maps showing coastlines. In 1764 he published Le Petit Atlas Maritime (Small maritime atlas), a work in five volumes containing 581 maps. This map outlines the routes taken on the voyages by Semen Dezhnev around the Chukotka Peninsula in 1648; Vitus Bering through what became known as the Bering Strait in 1728; Mikhail Gvozdev and Ivan Fyodorov through the Bering Strait to Cape Prince of Wales in Alaska in 1732; and Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov to southern Alaska in 1741. This map was not greatly improved upon until the voyage of Captain Cook to Alaska more than 30 years later, in 1778. Parts of the map later were proved to be erroneous, such as the large landmass reported by natives on Kamchatka and depicted north of the Aleutian Islands. A note below the title cartouche and scale refers to the putative voyage of the Spanish admiral Bartolomé de Fuente in search of a Northwest Passage. The map includes specific and accurate details on the Russian Asian coast south to Japan, as well as Sakhalin Island and the Kurile Islands. It also shows parts of California, which were known from Spanish explorations, as well as interior sections of North America near Hudson Bay. This last area was well known to French voyageurs who had thoroughly explored the north-central parts of North America by this time. The names and territories of the indigenous peoples of Siberia and the Russian Far East are indicated with underlining, and include the Chukchis (marked as Tchuktschi), Yakuts (Iakuti), Tungus (Tungusi), and others.

The Russian Discoveries from the Map Published by the Imperial Academy of Saint Petersburg

This map, showing the known geography of Alaska in the late 18th century, was based on an original Russian map by Gerhard Friedrich Müller published in 1754 by the Imperial Academy of Saint Petersburg. The map was printed in 1775 on Fleet Street in London by Robert Sayer, a noted English map and print seller. Because the North Pacific and Arctic constituted the last largely unknown parts of the world at this time, early maps of Alaska were popular in Western Europe and were frequently reprinted. The map was published before the third Pacific voyage of Captain Cook to Alaska in 1778, and thus is still based on bearings and other geographical information obtained from the twin voyages of Vitus Bering and Aleksei Chirikov (shown by dotted lines) to Alaska in 1741, as well as on the findings of even earlier Russian expeditions. Sayer’s map shows the routes of the voyages by Semen Dezhnev in 1648 around the Chukotka Peninsula and East Cape (Cape Dezhnev, the northeastern-most point of Asia), by Bering through what became known as the Bering Strait in 1728, and by Mikhail Gvozdev and Ivan Fyodorov in 1732 through the Bering Strait to Cape Prince of Wales on the North American side of the strait. The map also perpetuates the myth of a large landmass north of the Aleutian Islands reported by Kamchatka natives and purportedly visible from Bering Island. Its depiction of the Aleutian Islands is more accurate than that of earlier maps. By 1775, Russian explorers and promyshlenniki (fur-traders) had traveled throughout much of the Aleutian Islands in search of sea otters and provided information beyond what was known in Bering’s time about several island groups in the Aleutian chain. The map also depicts the by 1775 well-known geography of the Sea of Okhotsk, Sakhalin Island, the Kurile Islands, and northern Japan and provides geographical information about California based on recent Spanish explorations. Noteworthy features include the entry point of the Strait of Juan de Fuca near present-day Seattle and the fictitious “River of the West” from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean.

Chart Showing the Locality Where Seals Were Taken Adjacent to the Commander Islands in 1892 by Eight Canadian Sealing Vessels

This map shows sites around the Commander Islands, within Russian maritime borders, where seals were taken by Canadian ships in 1892. A major diplomatic controversy over sealing in the Bering Sea arose in the late 19th century, particularly over the actions of Canadian sealers who conducted pelagic hunting (far out to sea) for seals that harmed female seals, and thus threatened the overall population numbers. The United States contended that with the Alaska Purchase in 1867 it had acquired from Russia exclusive fishing rights in the Bering Sea, which it sought to assert in order to protect its land-based sealing interests on the Pribilof Islands. Canada, whose international affairs were at that time still conducted by Great Britain, contended that it had a right to pelagic sealing in the Bering Sea derived from earlier conventions with Russia. A tribunal of arbitration was convened in Paris to settle the dispute; in 1893 it ruled in favor of Great Britain. This map is based upon information used by the British team to argue its case in the arbitration proceedings. It shows the routes of the Canadian sealing ships. The table in the upper right indicates that 219 seals were taken within a 30-mile limit of the Commander Islands; 3,817 were taken outside this zone, for a total of 4,036 seals.

Eastern Part of Canada, Translated from English from the Map by Jefferys Published in London in May 1755

Partie orientale du Canada (Eastern part of Canada) is a hand-colored manuscript map by cartographer, author, and illustrator Georges-Louis Le Rouge (born 1712), royal geographer to King Louis XV. It was based upon an English map made by Thomas Jefferys (circa 1719–71), who was geographer to King George III and engraved and published many maps and atlases in the mid-18th century, particularly of North America. It covers the northeastern region from Montreal to Île du Petit Mecatina and southwest to Boston Harbor. The map prominently displays the eastern part of Canada, including the Gaspé Peninsula, Saint Lawrence River, Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Nova Scotia, Bay of Fundy, and Gulf of Maine. It shows towns, forts, roads, harbors, rivers and lakes, Indian tribal territory, coastal islands, relief, and soundings in Northumberland Strait. It also outlines a planned road from Quebec to Fort Western, Maine. Several broken, colored lines highlight boundaries established by various treaties. The map includes two “Explications” at the top of the colored lines and hatching, and a table on the upper left comparing latitudes and longitudes from several earlier maps. Relief is shown pictorially. Scale is given in maritime leagues and in miles. Neptune is seen riding his chariot in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. The map is from the Rochambeau Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of 40 manuscript maps, 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas that belonged to Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725‒1807), commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780‒82) during the American Revolution. Some of the maps were used by Rochambeau during the war. Dating from 1717 to 1795, the maps cover much of eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Labrador in the north to Haiti in the south. The collection includes maps of cities, maps showing Revolutionary War battles and military campaigns, and early state maps from the 1790s.

City, Port and Harbor of Baltimore, Maryland

Ville, port, et rade de Baltimore (City, port and harbor of Baltimore) is a manuscript map, in pen-and-ink and watercolor, that depicts the harbor and environs of Baltimore, Maryland, towards the end of the Revolutionary War. The map was created by Louis-Alexandre Berthier (1753–1815), a young French officer who accompanied the army of the Comte de Rochambeau to North America in 1780 and served on his general staff. Berthier later became a marshal in the French army and chief of staff to Napoleon. The map shows fortifications, troop encampments of Rochambeau’s army around Baltimore, batteries at the harbor entrance, and a ferry crossing the Patapsco River. It also shows Baltimore’s street layout at the time, as well as wharves, houses, and area farms. The map highlights channels, soundings, and shoals in surrounding waters, and shows roads to “Frederick Town,” “White Marsh,” and “Spurrier’s Tavern” (at the intersection of routes linking Baltimore, Washington, and Annapolis). Relief is shown by shading. The title is from a manuscript label, which was on the verso as originally mounted. The map is from the Rochambeau Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of 40 manuscript maps, 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas that belonged to Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725‒1807), commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780‒82) during the American Revolution. Some of the maps were used by Rochambeau during the war. Dating from 1717 to 1795, the maps cover much of eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Labrador in the north to Haiti in the south. The collection includes maps of cities, maps showing Revolutionary War battles and military campaigns, and early state maps from the 1790s.

Partial Map of Boston Harbor to Show its Defenses

Plan d’une partie de la rade de Boston (Partial map of Boston Harbor) is a manuscript map, in pen-and-ink and watercolor, dating from 1778, the third year of the American Revolution. It depicts Boston Harbor from Castle William Island to Point Alderton. The map shows the position of the French fleet under Admiral Comte d’Estaing in Boston Harbor, where the French ships had gone for repairs after an inconclusive engagement off the coast of Rhode Island with the British fleet under Admiral John Byron. It also highlights French batteries built on several outer harbor islands to protect the fleet, as well as a temporary hospital. A legend with a letter key identifies geographical points of interest and fortifications, as well as individual ships and their commanders. Originally accompanying the map was an extract from a memoir by one of Admiral d’Estaing’s officers. Relief is shown by hachures. The map has a watermark. Scale is indicated in toises, an old French unit measuring about 1.95 meters. The map is from the Rochambeau Collection at the Library of Congress, which consists of 40 manuscript maps, 26 printed maps, and a manuscript atlas that belonged to Jean-Baptiste-Donatien de Vimeur, comte de Rochambeau (1725‒1807), commander in chief of the French expeditionary army (1780‒82) during the American Revolution. Some of the maps were used by Rochambeau during the war. Dating from 1717 to 1795, the maps cover much of eastern North America, from Newfoundland and Labrador in the north to Haiti in the south. The collection includes maps of cities, maps showing Revolutionary War battles and military campaigns, and early state maps from the 1790s.