RENNELL, James (1742-1830). Recueil de Cartes Geographiques, pour la Description de L'Indostan. Paris: Poignee, An VIII [1793].

$ 6,500.00

Small folio (11 4/8 x 8 4/8 inches). Four large folding engraved maps, that combine to form "Carte de L'Indostan ou de L'Empire Mogol.", with contemporary hand-color in outline, and six engraved folding maps and one plan (some tears near mounts and clumsy repairs). Contemporary quarter sheep, marbled paper boards, uncut (extremities a bit worn).  

Provenance: 20th-century gift inscription on the recto of the front free endpaper.  

First French edition, with maps revised by Jean Nicholas Buache, incorporating the four maps that compose Rennell's "second great work. the construction of the first approximately correct map of India" (DNB).  

"The Father of Indian Surveying" (Gole "Early Maps of India")

Rennell charted the currents through the India Ocean and around Africa, and later surveyed the Indian interior. He recognized Europe's growing fascination with India: "As almost every particular relating to Hindoostan is become an object of popular curiosity, it can hardly be deemed superfluous to lay before the public an improved system of its geography" (Rennell Preface). With Rennell's first map of Hindoostan, the result of 500 separate surveys and stretching from the Himalayas in the north, to Ceylon in the south, and the "Great Sandy Deserts" in the west.  Born in Chudleigh in Devon, England, James Rennell, who was to become one of the mosst celebrated cartographers of his time, joined the British Navy as a midshipman at the age of 14. Amidst the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), he travelled the world and learned marine surveying and hydrography. This led to his appointment at age 24 as surveyor of the British East India Company's dominions in Bengal.  In 1765, Rennell began surveying India. By this time, the British East India Company had maintained its foothold on the region for over one hundred years, but it was still another century before Queen Victoria would set her eyes eastward, and Rennell's explorations and accounts helped to fill that gap in time. Rennell combined data from British Army columns with Ain-e-Akbari (1598), a translation of Islamic geography of the empire which helped him acquire information about old divisions (he therefore subdivided the country according to the Mughal provinces of 'subas'). Catalogued by Kate Hunter