Philippe Marie Vandermaelen

Philippe Marie Vandermaelen

Philippe Marie Vandermaelen (1795-1869) was a Belgian cartographer and geographer known for his pioneering use of technology and his leadership in establishing the important Establissement geographique de Bruxelles. Born in Brussels, Philippe was obsessed with maps from a young age. He taught himself mathematics, astronomy, and mapmaking and plotted the battles of the Napoleonic wars avidly. He took over his father’s soapmaking business briefly in 1816, but then turned it over to his brother in favor of cartography.

From 1825 to 1827, he released his first atlas, the Atlas universal, which was well received. It was sold in forty installments of ten maps each, with 810 subscribers listed. The atlas contained 387 maps in six volumes at a uniform scale of 1:1.6 million. The maps were intended to be joined and together would create a globe 7.755 meters wide. It was the first atlas to show the entire world on a large uniform scale and was the first atlas produced using lithography. This project served as Vandermaelen’s gateway into intellectual life, gaining him membership in the Royal Academy of Sciences and Belles-Lettres of Brussels (1829).

In 1830, Vandermaelen inherited a laundry from his parents which he converted into the Establissement geographique de Bruxelles, or the Brussels Geographical Establishment. His brother, Jean-Francois, also established a botanical garden on the site. The Establishment had its own lithographic press, one of the first to use the technology for cartography and the first in Belgium. They produced textbooks, surveys, and especially maps of Brussels to be used for urban planning. The complex also housed schools, an ethnographic museum, and a library open to the public. Vandermaelen was passionate about geographic education and saw the Establishment as an open place where people could learn about the world.

In 1836, he was knighted for his services to geography and the intellectual community of Belgium. He died at age 73 in Molenbeek-Saint-Jean, near the Geographical Establishment that he founded. After Vandermaelen’s death, the Geographical Establishment declined, closing its doors in 1880. The extraordinary collection they had amassed passed to several institutions, most importantly the Royal Library of Belgium.


1825 - Europe No. 16. Partie De La Russie D'Europe [Tambow, Woroniege, Saratow and Territoire De La Milice De Don, etc.]

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Regional map of part of Russia and the Ukraine. Shows towns, roads, rivers, mountains, and a host of other details. From Vandermaelen's remarkable 6 volume atlas, which if combined as globe gores forms an immense globe.


1825 - Partie Des Iles Carolines. Oceanique No. 8

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Highly detailed map showing Yap, Palao and neighboring islands. A rare map to focus on this region. A nice example of this early and highly detailed regional map. From Vandermaelen's remarkable 6 volume atlas, which if combined as globe gores forms...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 19 & 20 [Partie du Groenland and Groenland Orientale]

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Highly detailed pair of charts showing the coastal and inland features of Greenland on a highly detailed scale. Vandermaelens' atlas is a landmark in the history of cartography, being the first atlas of the world published on a uniform scale, with the...


1825 - [Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and part of Tennessee and Western Florida] Amer. Sep. No. 56 Partie des États Unis

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Fine Map of Mississippi and Alabama from the Distinctive Atlas Universel Highly-detailed regional map focusing on Mississippi and Alabama published in Vandermalean’s important Atlas Universel shortly after they were split into separate territories...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 57(bis) Partie De Etats Unis [North Carolina & Bermuda]

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Scarce map of a part of North Carolina, showing Albermarle Sound, Pamlico Sound, Tyrrel County, Hyde County, Martin Coutny, Caretare County and areas just to the West, including towns such as Columbia, Tarborao, Greenville, Newberne, Washington,...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 49. Partie des États Unis [Missouri, Illinois, Indian Territory, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa]

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Important Early Mapping of the Missouri River, Upper Mississippi and Indian Regions Remarkable map of the central part of the Mississippi Valley and Lower MIssouri River Valley, only a few years after Missouri gained its statehood. The detail along...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 33. Partie De La Nouvelle Bretagne (Upper Missouri River, Lake Winnepeg, Lake of the Woods and Saskatehawan River]

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Large format map of the region, centered on Lake Winnepeg and showing Riviere Skatehawan ou Fleuve Bourbon in the Northwest, the Missouri River and Assinniboines in the Southwest, Nenawecouhen and Lake Pike in the Northeast and the Lake of the Woods...


1825 - [Utah] Amer. Sep. No. 47. Partie Du Mexique

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The Earliest Printed Map of the Utah Region Wonderfully detailed map of the region from Lake Timpanogos, Lake Teguayo and Rio de los Piramides Sulfareas in the West and extending into modern day Colorado and Wyoming, showing more detail than any other...


1825 - [Southern California, Arizona, Baja & Sonora] Amer. Sep. No. 53 Partie De La Vielle Californie

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Early mapping of Southern California, southwestern Arizona, northern Baja California and Sonora, published in Brussels. The California Coastline is shown from San Juan Capistrano in the north to the Bay of San Francisco in Baja Norte, centered on San...


1825 - [Montana, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan] Amer. Sep. No. 32. Partie De La Nouvelle Bretagne

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Highly detailed map, extending from the area around Kalispell Lake and Flathead Lake, Montana in the southwest, to Calgary and Edmonton to the north and Prince Albert Saskatchewan in the northeast. The map includes a number of early factories of the...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 5. Partie De L'Amerique Russe

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Large format map of the region, showing the Northern most known limits of Alaska. The northernmost named place is C. Glace de Cook. Cap Laburn is also shown, as is C. Mulgraves, and B. de Bonne Esperance. The primary feature on the map are the tracks...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 30. Ile De La Reine Charlotte

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Highly detailed map of the southern portion of Queen Charlotte's Island and the continguous coastline of British Columbia, in the area of Canal de Grenville and Hawkesbury. Detailed and interesting map. From Vandermaelen's remarkable 6 volume atlas,...


1825 - Partie Des Iles Mariannes. Oceanique No. 8 (Note sur les iles Sandwich)

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Interesting antique hand-colored lithographed map of the Marshall Islands, with a detailed description of Hawaii ("Note sur les iles Sandwich"). The map shows two "Iles Marshall" and speculates that they are probably the Jardine islands. The islands...


1827 - Carte D'Assemblage De L'Amerique Septentrionale

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A nice example of Vandermaelen's Key Sheet to his map of North America, published in 76 Sheets, probably the grandest North American Wall map of the 19th Century. From Vandermaelen's remarkable 6 volume atlas, which if combined as globe gores forms an...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 36 Partie Du Bas Canada [Gulf of St. Lawrence, Isle de Anticosti, District De Gaspe]

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Remarkably detailed map of the mouth of the St. Lawrence, District of Gaspe, Gulf of St. Lawrence Isle de Anticosti and west coast of Newfoundland. Includes coastal soundings. An amazing work and a must for regional collectors. Perhaps the most...


1825 - Amer. Sep. No. 37. Partie De L'Ile De Terre Neuve

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Large format map of Newfoundland, extending from Random Head and Flamborough Head to Wolf Island and Table Bay and centered on White Baie and Belle Ile. From Vandermaelen's remarkable 6 volume atlas, which if combined as globe gores forms an immense...