Printed from Catalogue on Thursday, Oct 28 2021

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1814 - General Chart of Terra Australis or Australia

Map makerSizeMap IDCondition
Matthew Flinders 910 x 630 mmD1 / M343 / I317Original excellent condition. Original folds and narrow left margin.

Offered here is the very rare and desirable first edition of Flinders exceptional and important chart, printed before the death of Flinders and before the admiralty would begin to publish the chart.

Matthew Flinders chart of Australia is outstanding for a number of reasons. Firstly it carries with it one of the all time great maritime stories, the race to circumnavigate Australia and map the remaining coastline, Flinders’ shipwrecks, the famous cat, his voyage with Bass, Joseph Banks involvement and of course his subsequent detention on the island of Mauritius for 7 years under the French. The rich story also accompanies a rich cartographic achievement with the quality of the chart being impeccable and leading to its reissue for more than 60 years after his death under the admiralty. Before this chart Australia was very much a jigsaw of different explorers discoveries that had simply been stuck together.

Most historically important and impressive however is the charts title “General chart of Terra Australis or Australia”. Flinders chart is the first to explicitly name the continent (1814), which would then be officially adopted by the admiralty in 1824 after recommendation by Governor Macquarie. This important chart is therefore the first map of “Australia” and not New Holland or Terra Australis.

Matthew Flinders (1774-1814) was an accomplished navigator and cartographer, having circumnavigated the Australian continent, proved that Tasmania was not joined to the mainland, and played a major part in the naming of Australia. Despite Flinders’ short life he accomplished some exceptional feats. His charts were of a particularly high standard and though published in 1814, many continued to be republished and used until recent years. Flinders’ most famous chart was of the Australian continent, published in 1814, which is famously named ‘General Chart of Terra Australis or Australia’. It was the first prominent chart to specifically label the continent as Australia. Sadly, Flinders journeys were marked by some disappointments including shipwrecks, poor vessels, and most notably his six year imprisonment by the French on Mauritius. His imprisonment meant that he was not the first to publish the newly discovered regions of Australia or a ‘complete’ map of the continent. However in 1814 shortly before his death his famous atlas was released with 16 charts detailing a majority of the Australian coastline.

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