It’s not the most precise map you’ll see but considering it was made over 250 years ago, it’s pretty damn good!
The map was made by French cartographer Jean Baptiste d’Anville. According to geographicus.com, the map is deceptively sophisticated and dense, so much so that one is immediately inclined to praise its depth without considering its cartographic shortcomings. On the whole, D’Anville presents a highly impressive map of the region then only tenuously understood by European geographers. Korea is notably square at the base. Hokkaido, or Yesso, is attached to the Japanese mainland as well as grossly malformed. Okinawa is so massively oversized that it nearly eclipses Taiwan – a clear indication that D’Anville is drawing from the Japanese manuscript sources that typically mapped the islands as such.
Below is the Indonesian section of the map, which at the time had been aggressively mapped by the Dutch.
So does one go about creating a map in 1752?
D’Anville’s studies embraced everything of geographical nature in the world’s literature, as far as he could muster it: for this purpose, he not only searched ancient and modern historians, travelers and narrators of every description but also poets, orators and philosophers. One of his cherished subjects was to reform geography by putting an end to the blind copying of older maps, by testing the commonly accepted positions of places through a rigorous examination of all the descriptive authority, and by excluding from cartography every name inadequately supported. Vast spaces, which had before been bordered with countries and cities, were thus suddenly reduced mostly to a blank.