Carte des Isles Sandwich

One of the earliest obtainable maps of Hawaii – a landmark in the mapping of the islands.

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This spectacular plan of the Hawaiian islands was published in the first French edition of Captain James Cook’s A Voyage to the Pacific Ocean (1784). It reflects the explorations of Cook and his two ships, the Resolution and Discovery, on his third voyage in the Pacific Ocean.

The map follows the tracks of the explorer during two separate visits in 1778 and 1779. During the first, Cook and his crew became the first Europeans to visit the Hawaiian islands when they landed on the island of Kauai (Atooi) in January of 1778. As a result, this map is one of the earliest obtainable images of the archipelago and a landmark for all future surveys.

Cook continued his voyage up the western coast of North America to the Bering Strait and Aleutian Islands in Alaska. After a brief stay, he returned to Hawaii in 1779, when he and his crew sailed around the islands for around eight weeks before making landfall at Kealakekua (Karakakooa) Bay.

An inset in the lower left shows the bay in some detail, including depth soundings, villages, and local topography. It was here that the captain met his demise at the hands of locals after trying to kidnap their chief. The crew continued the voyage without Cook and made one more attempt to pass through the Bering Strait (unsuccessfully), before returning home to England in 1780.

The maps detailing the exploration were prepared by Lieutenant Henry Roberts and several were based off surveys performed by William Bligh, later infamous captain of the HMS Bounty. This particular example was engraved by Bernared, who based the image off Henry’s chart, and published in the French account of Cook’s voyages (issued the same year as the English version).

Map Details

Publication Date: c. 1785

Author: Rigobert Bonne

Sheet Width (in): 19.40

Sheet Height (in): 12.10

Condition: A-

Condition Description: A few small spots of foxing in the lower left corner and inset map. Minor creasing along fold lines, but overall in very good condition. A crisp impression on a strong, clean sheet.

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