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Rated by Streeter as of one of the Top Six Maps for a Texas Collection

“A truly magnificent cartographic achievement”—Wheat


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315.     [MAP]. HUMBOLDT, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von. Carte Générale du Royaume de la Nouvelle Espagne depuis le Parallèle de 16° jusqu’au Parallèle de 38° (Latitude Nord) Dressée sur des Observations Astronomiques et sur l’ensemble des Matériaux qui existoient à Mexico, au commencement de l’année 1804. Par Alexander de Humboldt. Ls. Aubert père Scripsit. [below neat line] Dessiné à Mexico par l’Auteur en 1804, perfectionné par le même, par MM. Friesen, Oltmanns et Thuilier. 1809. | Gravé par Barrière-et l’Écriture par L. Aubert père, à Paris [key at lower left] Explication des signes [upper right corner outside neat line] 1. Paris, ca. 1808-1812. Copper-engraved map on four sheets of paper joined horizontally and vertically, measuring together, neat line to neat line: 99.5 x 69.2 cm. Lightly stained where joined, overall light foxing, five small (dime-size to pencil eraser size) light brown circular stains (one with minor loss at center), tiny loss (7 x 9 cm) at upper center of lower sheet supplied in expert facsimile). Overall a very good copy, in sharp impression. Framed.

     First edition of Humboldt’s monumental map of New Spain. Humboldt’s map is legendary, presenting relatively little-known areas in Mexico and the American Southwest, and forever changing cartographical representation by the introduction of hachure. This map appeared in Humboldt’s Atlas Géographique et Physique du Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne… (Paris & Tübingen, 1808 & Paris, 1811), to accompany the first German and first French editions of Humboldt’s Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne…. (Paris, 1811, 2 vols., 4to atlas sometimes found with the first French 8vo edition). Humboldt’s work on New Spain constitutes the first modern geographical monograph on Mexico and the Southwest U.S., containing data assembled during the author’s visit to Mexico at the end of the eighteenth century. Much of this information had never before appeared in print. It would be difficult to find two more energetic, inquisitive, learned, and gifted explorers than Humboldt and his companion Bonpland, although in an historic coincidence, their United States counterparts, Lewis and Clark, were also making equivalent history at the same time. Thomas Jefferson remarked of Humboldt: “I consider him the most important scientist whom I have met.”

     References to map: Cohen, Mapping the West, pp. 100-101. Cf. Martin & Martin, 23n (describing the first English edition of the map, in reduced format) & pp. 19, 32: “A noteworthy turning point in the cartographic history of Texas occurred in 1810, when the great European savant, Alexander von Humboldt, had been a guest of the Spanish government in Mexico…. His semi-official status provided him access to many confidential sources, and among the works his stay produced was a large map of New Spain. Although he left Mexico in 1804, the map was not published until 1810, when it appeared with his Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain…. Humboldt’s map [of New Spain] has been termed a magnificent cartographic achievement, which in its depiction of the West it surely is.” Phillips, Atlases, p. 468. Rumsey 328. Schwartz & Ehrenberg, Plate 139 & p. 127: “Humboldt’s map remained the standard map of the Great Basin region until Frémont’s expeditions thirty-five years later.” Streeter 1042 (rating Humboldt’s map as one of the six most important maps for a Texas collection; see p. 329 in Streeter): “In speaking of the Texas coastline, Humboldt says, ‘I have followed…the map of the gulph of Mexico, published by order of the King of Spain in 1799’ [see Item 303 herein]…. [Humboldt’s map] is without question the best representation of Texas that had thus far appeared.” Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #272 & Vol. I, pp. 132-138: “a truly magnificent cartographic achievement.”

     References to atlas and/or text: Graff 2009 (atlas, Paris, 1811). Howes H786: “Of superlative California importance.” Miles & Reese, Creating America 23. Pilling 1873. Plains & Rockies IV:7a:1a & IV:7a:3a:l: “Humboldt’s discussions of California, New Mexico, Texas and Northern Mexico are detailed and thorough, containing much data that had never before appeared in print.” Printing and the Mind of Man 320n (discussion of the historical impact of Humboldt’s work): “[Humboldt] laid the foundation of modern physical geography, meteorology and geography of plants.” Sabin 33756. Raines, p. 121. Streeter Sale 195. Palau 16977 (collation in error).

     Streeter (1042) includes a long, interesting discussion on the controversy that erupted between Humboldt, Pike, Arrowsmith (see Item 266 herein), and accusations of plagiarism.


Sold. Hammer: $16,000.00; Price Realized: $19,200.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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