Depot de la Marine

Depot de la Marine

The Dépôt de la Marine, known more formally as the Dépôt des cartes et plans de la Marine, was the central charting institution of France. The centralization of hydrography in France began in earnest when Jean-Baptiste Colbert became First Minister of France in 1661. Under his watch, the first Royal School of Hydrography began operating, as did the first survey of France’s coasts (1670-1689). In 1680, Colbert consolidated various collections of charts and memoirs into a single assemblage, forming the core of sources for what would become the Dépôt.

The Dépôt itself began as the central deposit of charts for the French Navy. In 1720, the Navy consolidated its collection with those government materials covering the colonies, creating a single large repository of navigation. By 1737, the Dépôt was creating its own original charts and, from 1750, they participated in scientific expeditions to determine the accurate calculation of longitude.

In 1773, the Dépôt received a monopoly over the composition, production, and distribution of navigational materials, solidifying their place as the main producer of geographic knowledge in France. Dépôt-approved charts were distributed to official warehouses in port cities and sold by authorized merchants. The charts were of the highest quality, as many of France’s premier mapmakers worked at the Dépôt in the eighteenth century, including Philippe Bauche, Jacques-Nicolas Bellin, Rigobert Bonne, Jean Nicolas Buache, and Charles-François Beautemps-Beaupré.

The Dépôt continued to operate until 1886, when it became the Naval Hydrographic Service. In 1971, it changed names again, this time to the Naval and Oceanographic Service (SHOM). Although its name has changed, its purpose is largely the same, to provide high quality cartographic and scientific information to the France’s Navy and merchant marine.


1846 - Carte Particuliere Du Detroit De La Sonde reduite d'apres les travaux hydrographiques executes en 1840 et 1841, par M.M. J.A.G. Rietveld, E.H. Boom et J. Grol . . . . 1846

  • $14.99

Fine early sea chart of the strait between Java and Sumatra, published by the Depot De La Marine in 1846. The chart includes 7 recognition profile views, soundings, sailing directions, and other important details. The routes to Batavia and China...


1867 - [Vietnam & Cambodia] Carte Generale de la Basse Cochinchine et du Cambodge Levee en 1861-62-63-64 par M.M. L. Manen F. Vidalin, et G. Heraud, Sous-Ingenieurs hydrographes de la Marine. Publiee Par Ordre de L'Empereur . . . 1867

  • $29.99

The First Large Format Map of French Cochinchina Rare separately published map of the southern part of Vietnam and Cambodia, centered on the Mekong Delta and River. The map extends from the coast and the area around Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to the...


1856 - Plan Du Mouillage D'Alexandrette (Cote de Syrie) Leve et Dresse en 1854 . . . Par Ordre de L'Empereur Sous le Ministeree de Son Excellence Mr. L'Amiral Hamelin . . . 1856.

  • $9.99

Fine chart of the coastal region of Syria, centered on Alexandrette (now called İskenderun or Scanderoon), published by the French Hydrographical Department in 1856. The chart shows soundings, the Iskendrun lighthouse, and topographical features,...


1763 - (Reunion Island) Carte De L'Isle De Bourbon Dressee au Depost des Cartes et Plans de la Marine Par Ordre de M. Le Duc de Choiseul . . . 1763

  • $14.99

Fine French Sea Chart of Reunion Island Finely executed sea chart of the Island of Bourbon (Reunion Island), first issued in 1763. Rumsey notes: "Exceptional onboard document of this rare and fabulous maritime atlas, a masterpiece by the greatest...


1774 - Carte Des Isles Du Cap-Verd Dressee sur les remarques et les observations les plus exactes Navigateurs Par M. D'Apres De Mannetville . . . 1774

  • $14.99

Detailed map of the Cape Verd Islands, with a large inset "Plan de la Rade de Praye" on the Island of S. Yago. Excellent and highly detailed chart from the Depot de la Marine, which was then perhaps the most prolific of all sea chart makers in the world.


1843 - Plan de Bavatoube Situe a la Cote. N.O. De Madagascar (Baie Dalrymple du Capne. Ownen) Leve et dresse en 1841, d'apres les ordres de Mr. Le Coontre Amiral de HEll, Gouverneur de Bourbon, par Mr. Jehenne, Capne. de Corvette . . . 1843

  • $14.99

Rare French sea chart of Bavatoube (also known as Dalrymple Bay) on the northeast coastline of Madagascar. The Bay is about 20 miles east of Nosy Iranja and 40 miles west of Noy Ambariovato and Hell-Ville.