Carte d'une partie de la mer de Chine
Map of the China Sea coasts published for the use of French navigators in the 18th century. It shows the coasts of Vietnam and South China; as well as Hainan Dao and several islands in the sea and stretches eastward to Macao and Hong Kong. It is based on the accounts of the French marine officer and diplomate François Étienne de Rosily-Mesros. He commanded various sailing ships throughout his service such as La Cléopâtre, La Venus, La Fidèle and La Méduse. He took charge over the La Méduse in Pondicherry on June 19, 1788, and then of the Indian Seas Division on November 5, 1790, he sailed the coasts of China, Cochinchina and the Philippines until November 13, 1791. (1)
To represent the coasts of this sea, the authors also took into consideration the reports of the frigate Calipso, as implied by a note under the title :
"Although in this map the extent and configuration of the Paracels Islands have been adopted, it is to be presumed by the route of the Frigate Calipso, that this shore extends less to the South, and that some of the small islands that cover it do not exist, since this Frigate had no knowledge of them, and even of the islands called the three brothers, which confirms the opinion of several Navigators who think that these islands are none other than the Cecir de Mer and its islets."
HENRAT, Philippe (2016). ROSILY-MESROS , François Étienne de. Bibliographie.
The Dépôt des cartes et plans de la marine was a French government entity in charge of the production and preservation of marine charts, coastal plans and documents for the French Navy. This institution was active from 1720 till 1886. It was founded in 1720 by the Minster of the Navy at the time Antoine Crozat (1655-1738). His objective was to provide the French Navy with high quality maps and plans to assist in navigation and trade. During its time, it was an important research center for cartography, surveying, and navigation. The maps produced and preserved in the Dépot were used by French navigators but also by other government agencies. The maps and sea charts produced were highly trusted since talented cartographers and engravers were employed to produce the maps and plans. Also, being a governmental institution, cartographers had direct access to the accounts of sailors, explorers and missionaries that provided information essential for the production of maps.