By Appt. Alamo, CA 94507 , United States Call Seller 925.272.8170


Captain Cook's Exploration of Tahiti: 18th C. Hand-colored Map by Bellin

$ 775
  • Description
    This beautiful 18th century hand-colored copper plate engraved map is entitled "Carte de l'Isle de Taiti, par le Lieutenant J. Cook" was created by Jacques Nicolas Bellin and published in 1780 in the French account of Captain James Cook's 1st voyage of exploration. It is the first detailed and accurate chart of Tahiti and it's neighboring island of Eimeo (now known as Moorea), depicting discoveries made by James Cook (still a Lieutenant in the British Royal Navy at the time of this voyage to Tahiti) during his first of three famous voyages of exploration which radically altered the knowledge of the world’s geography. Tahiti, the largest island of French Polynesia, is located in the archipelago of the Society Islands in the southern Pacific Ocean. The island consists of two roughly round portions with a central extinct volcano creating a mountain range and a series of radiating rivers. The map also includes the neighboring island of Eimeo, currently known as Moorea.

    This beautifully hand-colored map is printed on chain-linked, laid paper with wide margins and two watermarks. The sheet measures 11.38" high and 17.5" wide. It has a central vertical fold, as issued. There is faint discoloration in the left upper corner, but it is otherwise in excellent condition.

    Captain James Cook (1728 - 1779) was an English explorer, navigator and cartographer. Ultimately rising to the rank of Captain in the Royal Navy, Cook was the first to map Newfoundland prior to making his famous three voyages to the Pacific Ocean. Among his many achievements was the first European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia, the European discovery of the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand. Each of Cook’s voyages included scientists, cartographers and an artist to study and document the geography, the fauna and wildlife, as well as the culture of the inhabitants of the lands he visited.

    In 1766 the Royal Society engaged Cook to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the sun. Cook, at the age of 39, was promoted to lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition by the British Admiralty. The expedition sailed from England on 26 August 1768, rounded Cape Horn and continued westward across the Pacific Ocean.

    Arriving in Tahiti in April 1769 Cook anchored his ship, the Endeavour, in Matavai Bay on Tahiti's northwest coast, where he named a rocky promontory rising above the shoreline, Point Venus. It is here that he made his observations of the transit of Venus across the sun, fulfilling the initial mission of his voyage. He subsequently continued to explore the southern Pacific Ocean, including Australia, New Zealand, New Guinea and Tasmania, etc., which was the main goal of his voyage.

    During his stay on the island, Cook charted Tahiti's coast which took him 5 days in a pinnace (a small boat brought for local exploration), and as this chart taken from his original sketches shows, he saw wooded and fertile regions, hills, and many thickly settled coastal communities as well as coral reefs ringing the islands.

    The cartographer was Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772), a French hydrographer, geographer, and member of the French intellectual group the Philosophes. Bellin was born in Paris. He was hydrographer of France's hydrographic office, member of the Académie de Marine and of the Royal Society of London. Over a 50 year career, he produced a large number of maps of particular interest to the Ministère de la Marine. His maps of Canada and of French territories in North America (New France, Acadia, Louisiana) are particularly valuable. He died at Versailles. The map was engraved by Robert Benard, a well-known French engraver, for inclusion in the official French edition of Cook's Voyages.
  • More Information
    Period: Pre 18th Century
    Condition: Good.
    Styles / Movements: Traditional
    Incollect Reference #: 572659
  • Dimensions
    W. 17.5 in; H. 11.38 in;
    W. 44.45 cm; H. 28.91 cm;
Message from Seller:

Timeless Intaglio is an online gallery of rare and collectable antiquarian prints, maps and books. Although we specialize in all forms of vintage printed works on paper, the majority were created with the intaglio method of transferring ink from a plate, usually copper, to paper with a technique utilizing pressure generated by a press. Email us directly:

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