MEDITERRANEAN NAVAL PILOT -- A manuscript maritime atlas of the anchorages and ports of the Mediterranean [?Marseilles, early 1700s]
2° (375 x 264mm). 104 leaves (including 6 blanks, numbered 2, 5, 8-107, '107'[bis], 108) with 147 original pen, ink and wash charts and plans on 98 leaves, each titled in manuscript and set within a double-ruled border, most with compass rose and scale bar, coastlines and profiles in grey wash, with towns depicted in red, church spires and fortifications shown in brown, trees in yellow, the charts indicating main coastal depths, sandbars, obstructions and anchorage roads, some charts with key to buildings, others with instructions on navigation and anchorages, several later charts unfinished with pencil markings. (Leaves numbered 14, 15 and 30 with small holes, the first two and final three maps spotted or soiled with small marginal tears, some dampstains.) Blue paper wrappers (worn, lacking upper cover and backstrip).
A RARE AND IMPORTANT SURVIVAL OF AN EARLY 18TH-CENTURY FRENCH NAVAL PILOTE, most probably drawn up for a high-ranking officer under Louis XIV. The order of the maps follows an approximate route up the east coast of Spain, with a diversion to Majorca, along the south coast of France, west coast of Italy, Sardinia, Malta, Gozo, North Africa, Cyprus, Adriatic and the Greek islands. The pilot ends with a small group of more detailed plans of ports, some with cartouches, some partially finished and probably added shortly after the main body of the work. A few, namely the ports of Rousillon, Colioure, Bouc and the 'Mole d'Agde en Languedoc', can be directly related to engraved plates published by Henri Michelot and Laurent Bremond in their Recueil de Plusieurs Plans des Ports et Rades de la Mediterrane, 1728-30. They appear to be manuscript copies, but it is interesting that the Agde chart appears here twice, once as it does in the engraved version (p.95) and again as an updated chart with the addition of the new mole (p.96). The origin of this pilot is intriguing -- whilst these few charts appear to have been copied after plates engraved in 1727, the body of the work appears to comprise unique manuscript charts, which must have been drawn up from the hydrographical surveys carried out by Michelot from the early 1700s. If not by Michelot himself, then it is likely this work was produced by another member of the surveying team. An expensive undertaking, the meticulous and beautifully drawn charts are most likely to have been made for a prominent figure in Louis XIV's administration, for private use rather than on board ship. They not only contain the latest navigational information required by the navy, but contain highly decorative and pictoral elements, with elaborate compass roses (some set with faces), detailed plans of towns shown in elevation, and explanatory notes on monuments.