1825 Philippe Vandermaelen Large Antique Map of The Solomon Islands

Cartographer :Philippe M G Vandermaelen

This very large original hand coloured antique lithograph map of the Solomon Islands 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: - Original
Colors used: - Yellow, green, blue, pink
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

The first European to visit the islands was the Spanish navigator Álvaro de Mendaña de Neira, sailing from Peru in 1568. Landing on Santa Isabel on 7 February, Mendaña explored several of the other islands including Makira, Guadalcanal and Malaita. Relations with the native Solomon Islanders were initially cordial, though often soured as time went by. As a result, Mendaña returned to Peru in August 1568. He returned to the Solomons with a larger crew on a second voyage in 1595, aiming to colonise the islands. They landed on Nendö in the Santa Cruz Islands and established a small settlement at Gracioso Bay. However the settlement failed due to poor relations with the native peoples and epidemics of disease amongst the Spanish which caused numerous deaths, with Mendaña himself dying in October. The new commander Pedro Fernandes de Queirós thus decided to abandon the settlement and they sailed north to the Spanish territory of the Philippines. Queirós later returned to the area in 1606, where he sighted Tikopia and Taumako, though this voyage was primarily to Vanuatu in the search of Terra Australis.
Save for Abel Tasmans sighting of the remote Ontong Java Atoll in 1648, no European sailed to the Solomons again until 1767, when the British explorer Philip Carteret sailed by the Santa Cruz Islands, Malaita and, continuing further north, Bougainville and the Bismarck Islands. French explorers also reached the Solomons, with Louis Antoine de Bougainville naming Choiseul in 1768 and Jean-François-Marie de Surville exploring the islands in 1769. In 1788 John Shortland, captaining a supply ship for Britains new Australian colony at Botany Bay, sighted the Treasury and Shortland Islands. That same year the French explorer Jean-François de La Pérouse was wrecked on Vanikoro; a rescue expedition led by Bruni dEntrecasteaux sailed to Vanikoro but found no trace of La Pérouse. The fate of La Pérouse was not confirmed until 1826, when the English merchant Peter Dillon visited Tikopia and discovered items belonging to La Pérouse in the possession of the local people, confirmed by the subsequent voyage of Jules Dumont dUrville in 1828.
Some of the earliest regular foreign visitors to the islands were whaling vessels from Britain, the United States and Australia. They came for food, wood and water from late in the 18th century, establishing a trading relationship with the Solomon Islanders and later taking aboard islanders to serve as crewmen on their ships. Relations between the islanders and visiting seamen was not always good and sometimes there was bloodshed. A knock-on effect of the greater European contact was the spread of diseases to which local peoples had no immunity, as well a shift in the balance of power between coastal groups, who had access to European weapons and technology, and inland groups who did not. In the second half of the 1800s more traders arrived seeking turtleshells, sea cucumbers, copra and sandalwood, occasionally establishing semi-permanent trading stations. However initial attempts at more long-term settlement, such as Benjamin Boyds colony on Guadalcanal in 1851, were unsuccessful.

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.