1754 Buache - Carte Physique de la Grande Mer Ci-Devant Nommée Mer du Sud ou Pacifique

1754 Buache - Carte Physique de la Grande Mer Ci-Devant Nommée Mer du Sud ou Pacifique

SOLD: 1754 Buache map centered on the Pacific Ocean


Carte Physique de la Grande Mer Ci-Devant Nommée Mer du Sud ou Pacifique

Map maker:

Philippe Buache

Place and Year:

Paris, 1754


44 x 31 cm (17 x 12.5 in)


Copperplate engraving


Original hand color

Condition Rating:


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An uncommon and rare map that was originally presented to the French Academy des Sciences in 1744 and then published a decade later in Carte et tables de la  géographie physique ou naturelle... As described by the John Carter Brown Collections:

“This atlas includes 6 maps which are examples of one of the earliest attempts at thematic mapping in the fields of geology.  This map illustrates Buache’s theory that geological features of land masses, particularly mountain ranges, continue under the surface of the oceans and thus interconnect the continents.  Buache is also known for having hypothesized, before the Alaskan peninsula and the Aleutian islands were discovered that a geographical connection existed between Asia and America.”

It has been argued that “Buache was an academic geographer who researched his material thoroughly, relying on the most up-to-date information from voyages of discovery. He was the first geographer to recognize the important concept of the watershed and it was this that led him to make a number of deductions .that proved correct.”  A correct deduction was the existence of Alaska and the Bering Strait, years before they were officially discovered.  That being said, some of his theories proved incorrect such as his belief in a Glacial Sea in Antarctic, which he conjectured to be the source of the icebergs observed by Bouvet in 1738-39.

is important to note that It was his work, presented to the Académie Royale des Sciences in Paris between 1752-54, that helped ignite one of the greatest debates in cartography in the 18th Century.  At the heart of the dispute was the depiction of the “Mer de l’ouest” and the Northwest passage from the Pacific to Hudson’s Bay based on the fraudulent letter of Amiral de Fonte which first appeared in Memoirs for the Curious, 1708.

Buache’s family connection to Joseph-Nicolas de l’Isle and to Guillaume de l’Isle, one of the most important and influential cartographers of the 18th Century, provided him with an air of respectability and gave credence to his speculations however far fetched they might have been.

Although de l’Isle attempted to distance himself from Buache’s depiction, it proved insufficient in suppressing the debate that it unleashed both intellectually and in the search for the Northwest passage to Asia by different explorers intent on gaining fame and riches.

That being said, Gerhard Müller did provide a counterbalance to the de l’Isle and Buache's speculative depictions with his seminal map Nouvelle Carte des Decouvertes faites par des Vaisseaux Russiens aux Cotes Inconnues..., published in 1754.

Nevertheless, however outlandish Buache’s depictions of the Pacific Northwest are to modern viewers, his revolutionary thematic mapping remains on the mark as to its future importance to cartography.


Some discoloration along the centerfold.




John Carter Collections Z B917 1770 , BLR 30864, Rémy, F. Philippe Buache, géographe d’exception ou devin?