# 41562

GRÅBERG af HEMSÖ, Jacob (1776-1847)

[BASS STRAIT] Annali di geografia, e di statistica composti, e pubblicati da Giacomo Gråberg svezzese. Tomo I.

Genova : in Scurreria la Vecchia n. 84, April-July 1802. Octavo (185 x 125 mm), contemporary marbled calf with gilt board edges (upper board very lightly marked), spine with gilt decoration and title- and number-pieces in gilt; all edges stained red; original marbled endpapers; pp. 276, comprising four separately issued booklets issued monthly in 1802; with an engraved frontispiece, 1 foldout statistical table and 1 foldout map (190 x 260 mm) of Bass Strait, titled Carta dello Stretto di Basse. Fra la Nuova Olanda, e l‘Isola di Van-Diemen, colle ultime scoperte fatte dal Tenente Grant nell’ Anno 1801; text in Italian; the contents, including the important map, are crisp and clean throughout; a very fine copy.

After an early maritime career, Swedish geographer, writer and publisher Jacob Gråberg (1776-1847) served as Swedish consul in Genoa. In the fashion of the Italian nobility, he called himself J. Gråberg af Hemsö or da Hemsö, after his hometown in Gotland. Gråberg was an erudite man – he reputedly was a member of 68 academies and learned societies – and he wrote on a variety of subjects. During his time in Genoa he published his Annali di geografia, a scholarly monthly journal produced in a modest, portable format with the aim of keeping a wide readership informed about the latest geographical discoveries as well as presenting commentary and analysis in a diverse range of topics in the field of statistical geography.

The June 1802 issue of Annali di Geografia contains a very early and highly significant map of Bass Strait, Carta dello Stretto di Basse. It shows the southern coastline of the Australian mainland (here called Ulimaroa, o Nuova Olanda) from Cape Schank in the west to slightly east of Wilson’s Promontory, including Western Port; Bass Strait, including King Island, the Kent Group, the Furneaux Group, Banks Strait and Hunter Island; and the northern portion of Van Diemen’s Land (Isola di van Diemen). In the lower left margin of the plate is engraved the name of the cartographer, Jac. Gråberg disegno 1802, and at lower right the name and address of the engraver, Ant. Rogerone inc. Genova nella str. novma. In the upper margin at right we are referred to p.189 of the present work, which is the first of a four-page section that contains a detailed account of the recent exploration of Bass Strait by James Grant in his two expeditions in the Lady Nelson in 1800-1801.

The map and the text, therefore, are about as contemporary with Grant’s discoveries as could possibly be expected, especially considering that Grant did not arrive back in England until April 1802, and that his own account, Narrative of a Voyage of Discovery, performed in His Majesty’s vessel the Lady Nelson […], would not be published until the following year. In fact, the first English map to incorporate Grant’s discoveries in the Bass Strait and along the southern coastline of New South Wales (present-day Victoria), which was made by Ensign Francis Barrallier of the Lady Nelson, was not published by the Hydrographical Office until 27 January 1803 (Chart of Bass’s Straits shewing the tracks and discoveries of vessels between 28th Sept. 1800, & 9th March 1802).

However, a non-English map showing Grant’s discoveries had been published some eight months earlier in May 1802, by Baron Franz Xaver von Zach in Volume 5 of Monatliche Correspondenz zur Beförderung der Erd- und Himmelskunde. This German map, titled Basse’s Strasse, was the result of a correspondence between Sir Joseph Banks and von Zach; it was drawn partly after a preliminary sketch of the discoveries made by Grant in the Lady Nelson which Banks had sent to von Zach. It seems likely that Banks’s sketch map was in turn based on a manuscript chart now held in the NLA (MAP F 482) – or else a copy of it – which shows Grant’s passage through Bass Strait on the first expedition in the Lady Nelson in December 1800. Von Zach’s map also drew on a map engraved by the Depot générale de la Marine in Paris, Carte du Detroit de Basse, entre la Nouvelle Galle meridionale, et la Terre de Diemen. The French had made their map from a copy of Flinders’ chart, supplied to them by Banks.

Gråberg based his Carta dello Stretto di Basse on the map published by von Zach just one month earlier in Monatliche Correspondenz. We know this, not simply because the two maps are virtually identical (aside from the fact one is in German, and the other Italian), but also from the fact that Gråberg cites von Zach’s article on the Bass Strait published in the April 1802 issue of Monatliche Correspondenz in one of his footnotes (p.190). Unlike von Zach’s map, however, the existence of Gråberg’s map has not hitherto been recognised in the literature (although neither was known to Ferguson or Tooley).

No example of Gråberg’s map has been traced in Australian institutional collections, despite the fact that it is, after von Zach’s, only the second map known to show the present-day Victorian coastline west of Western Port.