A Well Used Sea Chart of Florida, Gulf Coast and the Caribbean
French Sea Chart of Florida, the Gulf Coast, Mexico, Yucatan, the Bahamas, Cuba and the western Caribbean, published in Paris in 1843.
The chart was used as sea, with what appears to be a commercial voyage to the region in February 1867, with daily tracks of the return voyage in March and early April of 1867.
Issued at a time when Texas was still a Republic and the various maritime powers were still vying for control of the region and its lucrative trading relationships.
The chart was engraved by J.M. Hacq. and designed by Heinrich Keller.
The map is very rare. We note several later editions at auction in the past 10 years, but this seems to be the only example of the 1843 edition, which appears to be the first state of the map.
The Dépôt de la Marine, known more formally as the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, was the central charting institution of France. The centralization of hydrography in France began in earnest when Jean-Baptiste Colbert became First Minister of France in 1661. Under his watch, the first Royal School of Hydrography began operating, as did the first survey of France’s coasts (1670-1689). In 1680, Colbert consolidated various collections of charts and memoirs into a single assemblage, forming the core of sources for what would become the Dépôt.
The Dépôt itself began as the central deposit of charts for the French Navy. In 1720, the Navy consolidated its collection with those government materials covering the colonies, creating a single large repository of navigation. By 1737, the Dépôt was creating its own original charts and, from 1750, they participated in scientific expeditions to determine the accurate calculation of longitude.
In 1773, the Dépôt received a monopoly over the composition, production, and distribution of navigational materials, solidifying their place as the main producer of geographic knowledge in France. Dépôt-approved charts were distributed to official warehouses in port cities and sold by authorized merchants. The charts were of the highest quality, as many of France’s premier mapmakers worked at the Dépôt in the eighteenth century, including Philippe Bauche, Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, Rigobert Bonne, Jean Nicolas Buache, and Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré.
The Dépôt continued to operate until 1886, when it became the Naval Hydrographic Service. In 1971, it changed names again, this time to the Naval and Oceanographic Service (SHOM). Although its name has changed, its purpose is largely the same, to provide high quality cartographic and scientific information to the France’s Navy and merchant marine.