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Philippe Vandermaelen: Océanique - Iles des Navigateurs. No. 47 [Samoa]

Map: AUNZ1924
Cartographer: Philippe Vandermaelen
Title: Océanique - Iles des Navigateurs. No. 47 [Samoa]
Date: 1827
Published: Brussels
Width: 22 inches / 56 cm
Height: 18 inches / 46 cm
Map ref: AUNZ1924
Early lithographic map of Samoa, formerly known as the Navigator Islands, made up of the islands of Savai’i (Ile Pola) and Upolu (Ile Ojalava) in the South Pacific Ocean. The island group was formerly known as the Navigator Islands., was named by Louis-Antoine de Bougainville in 1768 after the navigation and seafaring skills of the native peoples. The first European contact was said to have been in the early 18th Century by Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, and was seldom visited until the 1830s when missionaries and whalers from America and England began to arrive.

The map includes a panel of text about the discovery and landings of European explorers such as La Perouse and also a description of the natural environment, the animals and birds that inhabit the islands.

Philippe Vandermaelen

Philippe Vandermaelen was born in Brussels in 1795 and, at the age of 21, inherited a fortune from his father who had been a successful soap manufacturer. Financially independent, Vandermaelen was able to devote his life to the study of geography and in 1829 he founded a geographical institute in Brussels.

Vandermaelen's most important work, entitled "Atlas Universel", was an enormous atlas consisting of over 400 separate map sheets covering the world on the huge scale of 1:1,6 million. Each map sheet was designed using a special projection so that, if the owner of the maps so wished, they could all be joined together to form a globe with a diameter of 7.75 meters (This globe was actually built in Vandermaelen's institute in Brussels). The map sheets were printed using the process of lithography, which was an early use of this printing method for map making, and were then usually delicately hand coloured to emphasise boundaries and outlines. The complete atlas took only 3 years to make, a very short time for such a large project, and it was sold in instalments over a two year period from 1825.

Examples of Vandermaelen's map sheets are of great interest to the collector for a number of reasons. Firstly their large scale. The sections depict many of the remoter regions of the world on a scale previously unknown or unattainable. Particularly for the collector of Americana and Australasia, the sheets covering the western United States and Pacific respectively, where exploration was still in very early stages, are unique in this respect. Their historical insets, descriptions and statistics, along with their great visual clarity, make Vandermaelen's maps fascinating and valuable antique documents which also have superb visual appeal.

Original hand colour. (SL) [AUNZ1924]