Jacques Nicolas Bellin; 1703-1772
A first rank cartographer, Bellin worked for some fifty years at the French hydrographic service (Dépôt de la Marine); which he ran till his death. In this position he had unequal access to prime cartographic data, which he used to further his own private business interests. He was succeeded at the head of the service by the very talented, and no less prolific, Rigobert Bonne.
His career was mainly devoted to charting and mapping coast lines, harbors, sea lanes,… Most of his publications were related to nautical matters: maps for “Histoire générale des Voyages”* between 1747 and his death, “Atlas Maritime” in 1751, “Neptune François” in 1753, “Petit Atlas Maritime” in 1764,… for the benefit of the French Navy, merchantmen, and the public at large.
He is known to have used informations from the best fellow cartographers of his time, to complement the in-land parts of his maps, notably: Guillaume de L’Isle and Jean-Baptiste Bourguignon d’Anville, often giving them credit.
Fame, enormous output and fastidious quality of work, earned him the appointment of “hydrographer to the king” by Louis XV of France. He was also a member of the Royal Society in London.
* A major work published by Antoine François Prévost d’Exile. The first edition in 1747 was already of an encyclopedic size. A major remodeling was done in the mid fifties, incorporating some two hundred new maps (quite a few drawn by Bellin). Later editions, till 1789, incorporated verbatim other authors travel writings (e.g.: Gmelin’s “Voyage au Kamchatka par la Sibérie” was incorporated in volume 25 in 1779).
Plan du port d'Acapulco, sur la côte du Mexique.
This map (5 7/8" X 5 3/8") was probably published
in the 1764 issue of the "Petit Atlas Maritime",
it is closely derived from a 1744 Anson map.
It is rather unremarkable, and offers only a few desultory
details; some reefs, low tide sandy approaches, sounding depths,
fortifications and gun emplacements of this key spanish stronghold.
There are however a fascinating detail: in the upper right
key table: the O entry reads: "Two trees where the Manila
galleon ties a cable".
The colonial Philippines, under the administrative power of
"New Spain" (e.g. Mexico), dispatched every year
a ship loaded with spices, precious metals and oriental artifacts.
The ship landed at Acapulco protected by the mighty San Diego
fortress. Goods were unloaded, and transported over land to
Mecico City, then to Veracruz for further shipment towards
No text on verso.