Bellin, Jacques Nicolas

Antique chart of the mouth of the Mississippi River

Carte des Embouchures du Mississippi sur les Manuscrits du Depot des Cartes et Plans de la Marine

DESCRIPTION: One of the earliest available charts to focus solely on the passes at the mouth of the Mississippi River, then considered by the French to be their overseas possession. The location covered by this chart lies roughly 75 miles southeast of New Orleans, Louisiana which had only been founded in 1718 by the French Mississippi Company, under the leadership of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville.

This is the first and earliest of two small charts by the Depot de la Marine; the later chart appeared in Bellin's 1764 "Le Petit Atlas Maritime". This chart is characterized by numerous descriptions of the hydrography ("recif" or reef; "bancs de vase molle" or soft mudflats; and "le bare") but contains no depth soundings. The southwest pass is particularly interesting for it is labeled "Embouchure par ou les vaisseau entrant" or mouth where vessels enter. Just inside the mouth near two reefs a small ship is depicted aground ("V[aisse]au Echoué"). Further up the channel ("Chenal") is Fort de la Balise (Fr. seamark). At that spot the French constructed a 62 foot high pyramidal wooden tower (the Balise) in 1721.

This chart was undoubtedly based on observations prior to 1740 when the Balise was destroyed by a hurricance. Bellin's later 1764 chart shows no structure at that location, just a mass of debris.

CREATOR: Bellin, Jacques Nicolas



BODY OF WATER: Mississippi River

CONDITION: Good.  Some age-toning and some offsetting. Binding trim at upper left corner has been replaced with old paper outside the neatline and not impacting the image.



SIZE: 11 " x 8 "


PRICE: $460


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