New Pocket Map of the Discoveries made by the Russians on the North West Coast of America...
An interesting map of the Pacific Northwest of America and the Northeast of Asia. This rare map was published in Bowles’s Universal Atlas 1775-1780 and again in 1794-98. This is the third state of the map, with the first state being published four years earlier in 1771. There were no cartographic changes to the map in the three states other than the information found in the cartouche. The present example reads “a new pocket map” rather than simply “a map”. All else being the same.
Bowles’ map is actually an English derivative of Gerard Müller’s Nouvelle carte des découvertes faites par des vaisseaux russes aux côtes inconnues published in 1754. Müller’s map, and those published by later cartographers such as Bowles, are important to the cartography of the Pacific Northwest region because they helped refute the Buache-Delisle depiction of the coast published in 1752. The Buache-Delisle myth was based on the Russian explorers Bering and Chirikov expeditions to the region as well as on the fraudulent letter attributed to Admiral de Fonte who expounded the existence of a Northwest passage.
That being said, although Bowles is more scientific in his approach in depicting the North-American coast, he continues the imaginary leap of speculative faith by depicting the “River of the West” at the “entrance discovered by Martin d’Aguilar in 1609.” This river through the interior of the continent from the Pacific to Hudson’s Bay, although imaginary, was the basis for many quest for the Northwest passage. Bowles also continues to depict a second entrance to the continent supposedly discovered by Juan de Fuca in 1576 and draws Alaska with its erroneous and elongated peninsula in conformity with the official Russian hypothesis.
These myths and misconceptions on the depiction of the Pacific Northwest and the hoped for Northwest passage would finally be put to rest following the expedition by James Cook in 1778 and confirmed by George Vancouver’s landmark surveys of the NorthAmerican coast in 1791-95.
It is interesting to note Cook’s expeditions along the western coast of America in search of the Northwest passage would in effect be the first time that an English explorer would visit these shores since the claims to New Albion were made by Sir Francis Drake in 1579 and depicted on Bowles map as being located North of California,
(Sources: Kershaw 1130, Hayes, D. Historical Atlas of the Pacific Northwest.)