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Prince of Wales Issue of Arrowsmith’s Cornerstone Map

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266.     [MAP]. ARROWSMITH, Aaron. A New Map of Mexico and Adjacent Provinces Compiled from Original Documents by A. Arrowsmith 1810. Additions to 1815. London. Published 5th. October 1810. by A. Arrowsmith 10 Soho Sque. Hydrographer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. E. Jones; [inset map below title on lower left sheet] Valley of Mexico, from Mr. Humboldt’s Map [neat line to neat line: 36.5 x 43 cm]; [inset map on lower right sheet] Veracruz [neat line to neat line: 27 x 16.5 cm]; [inset map on lower right sheet] Acapulco [neat line to neat line: 15.5 x 16 cm]; [key at lower left on lower left sheet] Explication des Signes; [bottom center on three of the four sheets] London. Published 5th. October 1810. by A. Arrowsmith 10 Soho Square. [London, 1815]. Copper-engraved map on four sheets, original outline color of Mexican national and international boundaries, neat line to neat line (approximately): 120.8 x 157 cm; dimensions of each quadrant: upper left quadrant: 60.4 x 78.5 cm; upper right quadrant: 60.4 x 78.5 cm; lower left quadrant: 60.4 x 79 cm (map extending beyond neat line on right); lower right quadrant: 60.4 x 78.5 cm. Vertical crease where formerly folded, mild marginal waterstaining to the upper two quadrants, otherwise fine. All four quadrants separately matted, framed, and under Plexiglas. Rare in commerce.

     The “Prince of Wales” issue (as noted in cartouche), second issue, with “Additions to 1815” added after date in title (Streeter 1046B), preceded by the “Hydrographer to His Majesty” issue first published in 1810 (Streeter 1046) and the first “Prince of Wales” issue (1811 or after, Streeter 1046A). Two additional issues followed the present map, one with “Additions to 1816” (Streeter 1046C) and yet another issue with “Additions to 1817” (Streeter 1046D). The coloring of the present copy is a combination of Streeter’s two issues. Although the Texas border commences at the Mermento River instead of the Salinas, it deviates to the northwest to include San Saba, which is not a conformation described by Streeter. The present issue follows Humboldt and the official Spanish stance in pushing Texas territory deep into Louisiana, to the Mermento River. Mapoteca Colombiana, p. 40 (Méjico #48). Mayer, México ilustrado, p. 235 (#32). Phillips, America, p. 408. Rumsey 5699.014 (first Prince of Wales issue). Streeter 1046B. Taliaferro, Cartographic Sources in the Rosenberg Library 202. Torres Lanzas, Relación descriptiva de los mapas, planos, & de México y Floridas 500. Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West #295 & Vol. II, pp. 27-28.

     This cornerstone map of Texas, Mexico, and the Southwestern U.S. was the first large-scale map to depict the important discoveries of Pike and Humboldt; it became the most widely copied map of the region in the early nineteenth century. As an early nineteenth-century publication based on information gathered by Spanish exploring parties in the eighteenth century, Arrowsmith’s map belongs to the beginning of a new cartographic sequence. “Perhaps the most respected mapmaker of the early nineteenth century, Aaron Arrowsmith produced maps which were the result of a careful synthesis of all of the information he could obtain. His map of Mexico which first appeared in 1810 was bitterly criticized by Humboldt as a blatant plagiarism of his own map [see item 315 herein]. While there is no doubt that Arrowsmith did use Humboldt’s data to best advantage, his map was no mere copy. For his improved rendering of the Brazos River, if for no other reason, Arrowsmith’s depiction of the Texas area merits inclusion as a landmark in the cartography of the region” (Crossroads of Empire—Amon Carter Museum Exhibit, June 12-July 26, 1981). Of the three maps involved in this controversy of who stole from whom, Arrowsmith’s map is the most difficult to obtain.

     “Relying on information provided to him by the Hudson’s Bay Company, [Arrowsmith] added significant details in the Northwest, and his depiction of the California coast was probably taken from the British explorer Vancouver’s own charts. In the Texas area he undoubtedly used Pike’s rendition of the rivers, particularly of the Brazos and the Guadalupe, while he followed Humboldt in tracing the coast from the Spanish Hydrographic Office chart…. By combining the best parts of Humboldt’s and Pike’s maps and avoiding their errors, and by adding his own new information, Arrowsmith contributed a significantly improved depiction of the region” (Martin & Martin 25).

     Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823), English cartographer, engraver, publisher, founding member of the Arrowsmith cartographical firm, and Royal Cartographer, was famous for many large-scale maps, some of which have been discounted because they did not carefully use their underlying sources. Despite that, his neatly and highly finished style gained for him an extensive reputation, and his maps were widely sought after. The firm he founded carried on well into the nineteenth century, and his nephew John Arrowsmith published another seminal map of Texas in 1841 (Martin & Martin, Plate 32, p. 127). For more on the Arrowsmith firm, see: Tooley’s Dictionary of Mapmakers Revised Edition, Vol. I, pp. 46-48.


Sold. Hammer: $10,000.00; Price Realized: $12,000.00

Auction 22 Abstracts

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