Carte Particulière des Détroits de Singapore, Durian et Rhio. by Urban Dortet de Tessan, the year 1847

An extremely rare nautical chart of Singapore, issued by Urban Dortet de Tessan, under the patronage of Louis Philippe I of France. This chart stands at the forefront of scientific mapping of the region.

Tessan's map covers from the southern tip of the Malay peninsula to the coast of Sumatra and from (roughly) Pulau Rangsnag to Pauau Mapur (Panjang). It is centered on the Bantam Islands, including Batnam, Pulau Bulan, and Pulau Brintan. The focus of the map are the newly surveyed maritime routes south of Singapore, via the straits of Durian and Rhio (Riouw), towards the Dutch trading centers in Jakarta and the Pepper Ports of Sumatra. While inland detail is limited, the street structure of Singapore City is evident, as ore some notable inland features, such as mountains and volcanoes, are noted. Profile charts appears in the lower left quadrant.

When Singapore was founded in 1819 the seas around the colony were only tentatively mapped. The Malacca straits, which had long been a major artery of trade, had been mapped, but within proximity of Singapore island, most early mappings fell apart. This chart follows on the work of Horsburgh, supplemented by new surveys initiated by the Admiralty in 1840. Additionally, it also drawn on Dutch surveys produced under the direction of M. Van Der Plaat, who surveyed the islands just south of Singapore, in the same year. The consolidation under Tessan represents a considerable advancement over both previous charts.

The whole exhibits a level of meticulousness and detail rarely apparent in earlier charts of the region and is technically superior to the better documented British charts, such as the Thompson chart of 1846. The islands to the south remain loosely mapped, with some shorelines only ghosted in and other left notably blank, 'Partie inconue.' Nonetheless, significant advancement can be seen in the detailed sounding through in the Detroit de Rhio (Roiuw), the Detroit de Bolang, and the Detroit de Durian.

Urban Dortet de Tessan (August 25, 1804 – September 30, 1879) was a French physicist and Hydrographer Engineer active in Paris during the early to middle part of the 19th century. Tessan was considered among the most scientific of cartographers active at the time and his work is notable for its meticulousness and precision. Tessan was born I Vigan, the scion of an old Languedoc family. He graduated from the École Polytechnique in 1825. Afterwards he completed detailed surveys of the coast of France. From 1836 to 1839 he traveled around the world making scientific observations on the frigate Venus under the command of Abel Aubert Dupetit-Thouars. Tessan published several important works on physics, hydrography, astronomy, and more. Some of his more significant research presaged the invention of sonar over one hundred years later.

Dépôt des Cartes et Plans de la Marine (fl. 1720 - present), often called the Dépôt de Marine, was a French hydrographic mapping organization founded in 1720 under Charles-Hercule of Albert de Luynes (1674 - 1734). Much like the U.S. Coast Survey, the British Admiralty, and the Spanish Deposito Hydrografico, the Dépôt was initiated as a storehouse and distribution center of existing nautical and marine charts. Eventually the Dépôt initiated its own mapping activities in an attempt to improve and expand upon existing material. Some of the more prominent cartographers and hydrographers associated with the of Dépôt des Cartes were, Philippe Buache, Jacques-Nicholas Bellin, Giovanni Rizzi-Zannoni, Rigobert Bonne, and Jean Nicolas Buache.

Urban Dortet de Tessan
Singapore Nautical Chart - Year 1847 - Extremely rare map
Publication Place / Date
Image Dimensions
France/1847 (dated)
90 by 65 cm.
Black and White
VG / Some minor spotting, study images carefully.
Product Price
Product Number
On Request
SKU #M.0409