Paris: l'Abbe Antoine Francois Prevost, 1748.
Map. Uncolored copper plate engraving. Image measures 11.5 x 9".
This map issued by Jacques Nicolas Bellin in 1748, depicts the island of Madagascar, named by the Portuguese as Sao Lourenco (St. Lawrence). The map shows the entire island in beautiful detail and features rivers, capes, towns, sand bars, harbors, and other topographical features with mountains rendered in profile.
The Isle de St. Marie (Ile Saint-Marie) or Nossi Hibrahim (Nosy Baroha) is noted near the northeast coast. In the early 17th century Madagascar was a haven for pirates with the utopian pirate republic of Libertalia rumored to exist in the area. The island became home to several infamous pirates such as William Kid (Captain Kidd), Henry Avery, Abraham Samuel, Thomas Tew, among others. Many sailors that were shipwrecked on the island found English or French colonies or eventually became pirates themselves.
A note at bottom right explains that the southeastern portion of the island, between the Antavare and Mandreray Rivers, requires a level of detail that could not be included on this map, but is available on a map by Sr. de Flecourt published in 1656. The map appeared in Antoine-François Prevost's influential collection of travel narratives, "Histoire Generale des Voyages". It is in good condition with minor foxing and wear along the original folds. Narrow lower right margin. Original plate mark is visible.
Jacques Nicolas Bellin (1703-1772) was the official hydrographer to the French king and the first person to hold the title of "Ingénieur de la Marine of the Depot des cartes et plans de la Marine" (chief engineer of the French Hydrographical Office). He was particularly well-known for his maps of the French Empire, especially the territories in North America. This map is a fine example of his detailed work. Lovely in black and white.