French edition of Bellin's map of Japan
By BELLIN, Jacques Nicolas; ARKSTEE, Johann Caspar and MERKUS, Henricus , 1763

Carte de L'Empire du Japon Pour servir a l’Histoire Universelle, d’une Societé de Gens de Lettres. Par M. Bellin Ing.r de la Marine.

Asia Japan
  • Author: BELLIN, Jacques Nicolas; ARKSTEE, Johann Caspar and MERKUS, Henricus
  • Publication place: [Amsterdam and Leipzig
  • Publisher: Johann Caspar Arsktee and Henricus Merkus
  • Publication date: 1763].
  • Physical description: Engraved map.
  • Dimensions: 256 by 406mm. (10 by 16 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 15821


The second state of the map, first published in a German edition in 1753, then published as here in a later French edition, ‘Histoire Universelle, Depuis Le Commencement du Monde, Jusqu’a Present; Traduite de L’Anglois’, 1763, of Prévost’s version of Thomas Astley’s ‘A New General Collection of Voyages and Travels’, 1745, which eventually extended to 20 volumes and was published many times, over many years, and in many languages. The second state of the map is identifiable by the reference “Tom.XX Pag.411” at the upper right corner.

The map, by Bellin, is a reduced copy of that which he had produced in 1735 for inclusion in Charlevoix’s ‘Histoire et Description Generale du Japon;…’, 1736. In order to use the same plate for their French-language version, publishers Arkstree & Merkus had it reworked by translating the title cartouche back into French and adding French titles above the German ones to major features such as the seas of Japan and Korea; or by substituting French for German; or by additn French below the German.

Bellin (1702-1772), was the most significant and influential chart publisher in eighteenth-century France. He was appointed chief cartographer and hydrographer to the French Navy in 1721, and ‘ingénier hydrographe’ to the French navy’s Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine in August 1741. Bellin was also a member of the Académie de Marine and of the Royal Society of London. During his 50-year career, Bellin published a number of atlases, including ‘Hydrographie française’ (1753), ‘Carte de l’Amerique septentrionale’ (1755), ‘Petit Atlas Maritime’ (1764), and ‘Nouvelle méthode pour apprendre la géographie’ (1769).

Prevost (1697-1763) became a novice Jesuit in 1713, but in a complete volte-face, joined the army 3 years later. In about 1720, he changed direction again, and joined the Benedictine order, only to escape it temporarily, to England, between 1728 and 1734. His output of fact and fiction, was prodigious, with Diderot and Brunet recording more than 200 volumes, put together with great haste.


  1. Hubbard 105.2.