Biographies of Some of the More Famous Cartographers
Jean-Francois de Galup de La PEROUSE
Jean-François de Galaup de La Perouse (1741-c.1788) was born near Albi, entered the Navy at the age of fifteen and became an important French navigator, whose maps and charts display his recent discoveries in a clear and concise style.
In 1785 La Perouse was placed in charge of a French government scientific expedition to the Pacific. He sailed from Brest in August 1785 with two ships, La Boussole and L’Astrolabe. His crew included meteorologists, astronomers, surveyors, artists and botanists. The expedition sighted Mt. St. Elias in south-eastern Alaska in June 1786 and from there sailed southwards charting the islands of the Pacific coast until they reached Monterey that September.
From Monterey, La Perouse set a course across the Pacific, discovering Necker Island and visiting such places as Manila. La Perouse’s journey into the Sea of Japan and northwards into the Sea of Tartary allowed the region to be charted accurately for the first time. La Perouse passed between Sakhalin and Hokkaido (the La Perouse Strait) August 2nd 1787 and continued northeast along the chain of the Kuril Islands. On finally reaching Petropavlosk in Kamchatka, La Perouse received despatches advising him to sail to Australia.
On arriving in Botany Bay in January 1788 La Perouse encountered the fleet of Arthur Phillip with the first convicts for New South Wales. La Perouse remained anchored in the bay for some weeks before setting sail northwards after which he was never seen again. Later discoveries and local reports confirmed that he had been shipwrecked on the island of Vanikoro.
Jean Palairet (1697-1774) was born in Montauban, France. His best known production was the “Atlas Methodique”, 1755, and he also worked on Bowles’ “Universal Atlas” published between 1775 and 1780.
Sir William PETTY
Sir William Petty (1623-1687) was a physician, economist, map historian and organiser, and was also a founder of the Royal Society.
He is best known in cartographic terms for his atlas, “HIBERNIAE Delineatio quoad hacteniis licuit”, that was first published in 1685 containing a map of Ireland, maps of each of the four provinces followed by maps of the counties, as well as a portrait of William Petty himself.
This was the first printed atlas of Ireland and derived from the ‘Down Survey’ executed by Dr (later to become Sir) William Petty and was supplemented with work from other surveys. Petty’s survey was originally designed as a scheme to value Irish land following Cromwell’s reconquest of Ireland. However, extensions to the survey meant that Petty was able to envisage a topographical survey of the entire country.
The maps started to be engraved in 1660 although the first publication of the atlas itself was not until 1685. They were probably completed by an unnamed Dutch engraver by 1675 and the delay before publication may be attributed to the state of Petty’s private affairs whilst he was living in Ireland.
The maps are orientated with north to the top of the page and the scales are expressed in both Irish and English miles.
James Pigot started as an engraver for “Dean’s Manchester Directory”, but later set up his own business publishing the “London and Provincial New Commercial Directory”. For the third edition of 1827, a number of maps were added. In 1828, the maps were separately published in “Pigot & Co’s British Atlas”, which was reprinted until 1857. The maps themselves were printed from steel plates and are finely engraved and decorated with equally fine vignette views of an abbey, church or cathedral.
Charles Picquet (1771-1827) was geographer to the King and the Duc d’Orleans. Picquet worked from a number of Parisian addresses throughout his career and was also the distributor of maps for the Depot de la Guerre as well as the seller of a number of other maps and atlases published abroad.
John Pinkerton (1758-1826) was a geographer, archaeologist, numismatist, historian and author who spent his working life in London and Paris. He published a number of works in addition to “Pinkerton’s Modern Geography”, which appeared in three volumes from 1807, including “A General Collection Of ... Voyages And Travels In All Parts Of The World” (17 volumes - 1808-1814), and his single map publications included “The World On Mercator’s Projection” (2 sheets – 1812) and “Europe” (1814), amongst others.
Moses Pitt (1641-1697) was a map publisher and bookseller of London. Towards the end of the seventeenth century, Pitt attempted a multi volume work in the tradition of earlier Dutch atlases using and updating existing copperplates in the possession of the Dutch publishing firm of Johannes Jansson van Waesberge, son-in-law, heir and successor to Jan Jansson. The atlas was first published in Oxford in 1680 as the “English Atlas” but only four volumes of maps and a fifth of text were actually produced. Pitt suffered a sentence in the debtor's prison as a result of the financial failure associated with this venture.
The family firms founded by Richard Mount (d. 1722) and Thomas Page (1698-1712) and the partnership between them was synonymous with the publishing of marine charts throughout the eighteenth century. Their best known works were the “English Pilot” and Collin’s “Coasting Pilot”, both of which appeared in a number of editions.
Petrus Plancius (1552-1622), a Protestant theologian, was one of the moving forces in Dutch overseas expansion. He produced about one hundred separately issued maps of the world and its parts, highlighting possible routes to the East Indies, often using Portuguese manuscript charts that he was able to obtain. In particular, he was an enthusiastic supporter of in the quest for a North-East Passage.
In 1592 he produced an important planisphere, the second Dutch attempt at a large wall map, and another in 1594. In 1602, in recognition of his ability, he was appointed Official Map-maker to the Dutch East India Company.
His maps are engraved in a very characteristic and elegant style, and are among the most important and rarest Dutch maps of their day. A smaller number were included in volumes, and represent obtainable examples of the work of this most influential figure.
Claudius Ptolemy (87-150) was an Egyptian astronomer and geographer living and studying in Alexandria. Alexandria was not only the home of the greatest library of any period, but was also one of the most important trade centres between west and east - here Ptolemy could not only study ancient authorities, but could also consult contemporary travellers and merchants. From this wealth of accumulated knowledge, Ptolemy composed his “Geographia”, a work of considerable genius, which “dominated the whole of the Christian and Moslem world for 1,500 years” (Tooley).
- 1477 the first edition with maps. Copper engravings.
- 1482- Ulm Ptolemy. The first edition printed north of the Alps, with four modern maps added. Printed from woodblocks.
- 1513- Published by Martin Waldseemuller, incorporating 20 new maps, including the second map to focus on the discoveries of the New World. Woodblocks.
- 1522- Illustrated with woodblocks cut by Laurent Fries, careful reductions of Waldseemuller’s maps.
- 1540- Sebastian Munster’s issue of Ptolemy’s maps; subsequently re-issued in a variety of books of classical geography -attractive woodblocks.
- 1548- The first Italian text edition, the first miniature edition in copperplate of Ptolemy’s Geography, including several new maps by Gastaldi.
- 1561- Gastaldi’s maps re-issued, in a slightly larger format, by Ruscelli and Valgrisi in Venice.
- 1578- the first issue of Mercator’s version of Ptolemy’s maps - intended as a companion to his Atlas of the Modern World. Numerous re-issues. For the 1698 edition, the plates were re-worked, substituting a new cartouche within the map, containing a second title.
“Political Magazine And Parliamentary, Naval, Military, And Literary Journal, For the Year --, London: Printed For J.Bew, Pater-noster-row, And Sold By Every Bookseller And News Carrier in Great Britain”. (1780-1791).
The “Political Magazine” was issued monthly from 1780 until the December issue of 1791 and, as its name implies, tended to focus on the more political issues of the day. Naval and military matters were also considered to be of some importance. This particular focus insured that a number of military and war maps appeared in the journal at a time when other publications’ enthusiasm for maps was waning a little.
The maps from the publication tend to be attractive and clearly engraved. They convey important information, both geographical and historical, to any reader.
Georg Balthasar PROBST
Georg Balthasar Probst (17321-1801), of the renowned Probst family, was the engraver and publisher brother of Johann Frederick and Johann Michael. He married Anna Sabin, the daughter of the German mapmaker Matthaus Seutter, in 1754 and joined the family firm in 1756. Georg Balthasar specialised in publishing optical views and town plans, of which this is a fine example. He later became a publisher in his own right and was responsible for “Gross Brittannischen Städte” in 1782.
Further information about many of these cartographers may be found in the volumes of Tooley's Dictionary - an invaluable addition to any map collection or single item.