Carte Des Parties Des Iles Sandwich . . . 1786 [with] Carte Des Iles Sandwich

A landmark map from the 18th century cartography of Hawaii.

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The first recorded European discovery of the Hawaiian islands took place in 1778, when Captain James Cook sighted Kauai and Oahu on his third voyage. After returning again the following year, he would be killed by the natives in a skirmish and cut short further geographic exploration of the island chain.

As perennial rivals of the English, the French were somewhat envious of Cook’s incredible discoveries and funded their own Pacific exploration mission in 1785, led by Jean-François de Galoup, the Comte de La Pérouse. The group landed on Maui (Mowee) in 1786, the first Europeans to do so, and would continue on to Alaska, Japan, and Australia. Here, La Perouse sent copies of his journals and charts back to Europe on a British merchant ship. This was a fortuitous choice, as after departing New South Wales, the expedition was never heard from again.

This pair of maps was prepared by Sebastian Bernizet and is an excellent example of early comparative Hawaiian geography from the late 18th century. The upper image shows a map of the new discoveries made on Maui and the central islands. The track of the ship can be seen, along with an incomplete outline of the Big Island. The lower panel is an attempt to synthesize earlier geographic information from Cook with new data obtained by the French and provides one of the earliest comprehensive views of the complete archipelago. Published in the English edition of La Perouse’s work in London in 1798.

Map Details

Publication Date: 1798

Author: Jean Francois Galoup de la Perouse

Sheet Width (in): 22.2

Sheet Height (in): 31.3

Condition: B+

Condition Description: Creasing along centerfold and two spots of blue ink in the upper and lower margin, well away from the image. Scattered soiling elsewhere in the margins and a few small spots of foxing within the image. Lovely hand color on watermarked paper.

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