1754 Bellin Large Old, Antique Map of Southern Africa, inset view of Cape Town

Cartographer : Jacques Nicholas Bellin

  • Title : Carte Reduite D Une Partie Des Costes Occidentalies et Meridionales De L Afrique...MDCCLIV
  • Ref #:  50656
  • Size: 35 1/2in x 25in (900mm x 510mm)
  • Date : 1754
  • Condition: (A+) Fine Condition

This very large finely engraved beautifully hand coloured original antique map, sea chart, of SW Coast of Africa - with an inset view of Cape Town - by Jacques Nicolas Bellin in 1754 - dated in the title cartouche.

Background: This is a scarce and attractive nautical chart depicting the southwest coast of Africa from Cape Fria in Namibia to Cape Agulhas (Cape of the Needles) and the Bay of St. Blaise, including the Cape of Good Hope.
It shows incredible detail along the coast with capes, bays and topographical features including mountains, rivers as well as coastal features noted. Elevation is beautifully rendered in profile.
The map includes three profile views in the top right quadrant. These are ‘Vue Du Cap de Bonne Esperance’ (Cape of Good Hope), ‘Vue Du Cap Falso, Du Cap Des Eguilles et des Terres Qui sont Entre deux’ and ‘Autre Vue Du Cap Falso et Du Cap Des Eguilles’. Cape Town, Constance (Constantia), Stellenbosch and Hangklip are accurately identified

Being part of the Mediterranean world, the northern coasts of the African continent as far as the Straits of Gibraltar and even round to the area of the Fortunate Isles (the Canaries) were reasonably well known and quite accurately mapped from ancient times. In particular, Egypt and the Nile Valley were well defined and the Nile itself was, of course, one of the rivers separating the continents in medieval T-O maps. Through Arab traders the shape of the east coast, down the Red Sea as far as the equator, was also known but detail shown in the interior faded into deserts with occasional mountain ranges and mythical rivers. The southern part of the continent, in the Ptolemaic tradition, was assumed to curve to the east to form a land-locked Indian Ocean. The voyages of the Portuguese, organized by Henry the Navigator in the fifteenth century, completely changed the picture and by the end of the century Vasco da Gama had rounded the Cape enabling cartographers to draw a quite presentable coastal outline of the whole continent, even if the interior was to remain largely unknown for the next two or three centuries.
The first separately printed map of Africa (as with the other known continents) appeared in Munster's Geographia from 1540 onwards and the first atlas devoted to Africa only was published in 1588 in Venice by Livio Sanuto, but the finest individual map of the century was that engraved on 8 sheets by Gastaldi, published in Venice in 1564. Apart from maps in sixteenth-century atlases generally there were also magnificent marine maps of 1596 by Jan van Linschoten (engraved by van Langrens) of the southern half of the continent with highly imaginative and decorative detail in the interior. In the next century there were many attractive maps including those of Mercator/Hondius (1606), Speed (1627), Blaeu (1 630), Visscher (1636), de Wit (c. 1670), all embellished with vignettes of harbours and principal towns and bordered with elaborate and colourful figures of their inhabitants, but the interior remained uncharted with the exception of that part of the continent known as Ethiopia, the name which was applied to a wide area including present-day Abyssinia. Here the legends of Prester John lingered on and, as so often happened in other remote parts of the world, the only certain knowledge of the region was provided by Jesuit missionaries. Among these was Father Geronimo Lobo (1595-1678), whose workA Voyage to Abyssinia was used as the basis for a remarkably accurate map published by a German scholar, Hiob Ludolf in 1683. Despite the formidable problems which faced them, the French cartographers G. Delisle (c. 1700-22), J. B. B. d'Anville (1727-49) and N. Bellin (1754) greatly improved the standards of mapping of the continent, improvements which were usually, although not always, maintained by Homann, Seutter, de Ia Rochette, Bowen, Faden and many others in the later years of the century. (Ref: Tooley; M&B)

General Description:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color: - Blue
Age of map color: - Early
Colors used: - Yellow, green pink, blue 
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 35 1/2in x 25in (900mm x 510mm)
Plate size: - 35in x 23in (890mm x 595mm)
Margins: - Min 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - Creasing along centerfold
Verso: - None