1825 Philippe Vandermaelen Large Antique Map of Austral Islands French Polynesia

Cartographer :Philippe Vandermaelen

This very large original hand coloured antique lithograph map of the Austral Islands in the French Polynesia group of islands in the in the South Pacific was published by Philippe Vandermaelen in his revolutionary 1825 Atlas universel de geographie physique, politique, statistique et mineralogique.

Until the publication of this atlas, large detailed maps of this region of Australia & the Pacific were uncommon.

General Definitions:
Paper thickness and quality: - Heavy and stable
Paper color : - off white
Age of map color: - Early
Colors used: - Red, yellow, green, blue
General color appearance: - Authentic
Paper size: - 28 1/2in x 21in (725mm x 550mm)
Plate size: - 28 1/2in x 21in (725mm x 550mm)
Margins: - Min 1/2in (12mm)

Margins: - None
Plate area: - None
Verso: - None

New Hebrides, officially the New Hebrides Condominium (French: Condominium des Nouvelles-Hébrides, lit. Condominium of the New Hebrides) and named for the Hebrides Scottish archipelago, was the colonial name for the island group in the South Pacific Ocean that is now Vanuatu. Native people had inhabited the islands for three thousand years before the first Europeans arrived in 1606 from a Spanish expedition led by Portuguese navigator Pedro Fernandes de Queirós. The islands were colonised by both the British and French in the 18th century, shortly after Captain James Cook visited.
The two countries eventually signed an agreement making the islands an Anglo-French condominium that divided New Hebrides into two separate communities: one Anglophone and one Francophone. That divide continued even after independence, with schools teaching in either one language or the other, and with different political parties. The condominium lasted from 1906 until 1980, when New Hebrides gained its independence as the Republic of Vanuatu.

Vandermaelen, Philippe M G 1795-1869
Vandermaelen was the son of the wealthy soap manufacturer; he abandoned the soap trade and devoted his life to cartography. Entirely self-taught in geometry, astronomy and the geosciences, he began drafting the first sheets of an Atlas universel in 1824. This atlas was published between 1825 and 1827; it was sold in forty instalments of ten maps each and became a great success. The revenue enabled him to set up his own Etablissement géographique de Bruxelles in 1830, which not only produced maps, atlases and globes in large quantities but also housed a natural science museum, botanical gardens, a library, and an impressive collection of maps.
Shortly after the closing of Vandermaelens Institute, the Royal Library of Belgium (KBR) in 1880 acquired a large part of its cartographic collection and production.
Vandermaelens atlas was remarkable: 387 maps on a uniform scale of ca. 1:1.6 million. There was one edition of this very rare atlas, published in 1825-27; the subscription list shows that only 810 copies were sold. The six volumes, of which Africa was in Volume III (60 maps), were issued in instalments during the period 1825-1827.
This folio-size atlas is remarkable for several reasons. It is the first atlas produced by the then new printing process of lithography. It is also the first atlas to show the whole world in 380 maps using a large uniform scale—about 10km to the cm. on a modified conical projection described by Sanson-Flamsteed. Based on a prime meridian through Paris, each map has a drawn-out graticule giving it a trapezoidal form, the underlying intention being construction of a globe with a diameter of 7.755m Eugene Gilbert de Cauwer , his biographer, suggested that Vandernaelen was a worthy follower of Mercator and Ortelius.
Vandermaelen enlisted the assistance of lithographer-printer Hippolyte Ode in this ambitious project which introduced lithography into Belgium and created an upsurge in Belgian publishing. A number of maps were lithographed by Philippe Vandermaelen himself. For many of the areas depicted, these maps are the largest scale maps made at the time, and the most detailed. The lithographs are very well drawn and printed and should be appreciated in the context of lithography, which was a developing art at the time. The maps are handsome and detailed, although some of the place names are somewhat curious and the cartography sometimes imaginary. Nevertheless, the Vandermaelen maps are of great significance in the history of cartography and lithography. Visually, they are arresting and unusual. Vandermaelens maps best are appreciated in the context of its neighbouring maps - they were all meant to be joined .

Please note all items auctioned are genuine, we do not sell reproductions. A Certificate of Authenticity (COA) can be issued on request.