BL-00067

Plan de la Ville de Malaca - Bellin (1764)

  • Condition: Good, given age. General age-related toning and/or occasional minor defects from handling. Please study scan carefully.
  • Date: 1764
  • Overall size: 24.2 x 32.3 cm
  • Image size: 17.2 x 21.4 cm
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Description: Finely engraved plan of the Dutch controlled fortified harbor and town of Malacca City, from Jacques Nicolas Bellin's Le Petit Atlas Maritime Recueti de Cartes et Plans des Quatre Parlies du Monde en Cinq Volumes, first published in Paris in 1764.

Originally Malacca was ruled by early Malay sultanates.   Before the arrival of the first Sultan, Malacca was a fishing village inhabited by local Malays known as Orang Laut. Malacca was founded by Parameswara, also known as Iskandar Shah or Sri Majara, the last Raja of Temasek (present day Singapore) following a Majapahit attack in 1377. He found his way to Malacca around 1400 where he found a good port—it was accessible in all seasons and on the strategically located narrowest point of the Malacca Straits.  In collaboration with allies from the sea-people (orang laut), the wandering proto-Malay privateers of the Straits, he established Malacca as an international port by compelling passing ships to call there, and establishing fair and reliable facilities for warehousing and trade.

Artists and Engravers: Jacques-Nicolas Bellin (1703 - 1772) was one of the most important cartographers of the 18th century. With a career spanning some 50 years, Bellin is best understood as geographe de cabinet and transitional mapmaker spanning the gap between 18th and early 19th century cartographic styles. His long career as Hydrographer and Ingenieur Hydrographe at the French Depot des cartes et plans de la Marine resulted in hundreds of high quality nautical charts of practically everywhere in the world. A true child of the Enlightenment Era, Bellin's work focuses on function and accuracy tending in the process to be less decorative than the earlier 17th and 18th century cartographic work. Unlike many of his contemporaries, Bellin was always careful to cite his references and his scholarly corpus consists of over 1400 articles on geography prepared for Diderot's Encyclopedie. Bellin, despite his extraordinary success, may not have enjoyed his work, which is described as "long, unpleasant, and hard." In addition to numerous maps and charts published during his lifetime, many of Bellin's maps were updated (or not) and published posthumously. He was succeeded as Ingenieur Hydrographe by his student, also a prolific and influential cartographer, Rigobert Bonne.