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A New Map of Mexico and Adjacent Provinces Compiled from Original Documents: Arrowsmith 1810

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  • Title: A New Map of Mexico And Adjacent Provinces Compiled From Original Documents
  • Author: Aaron Arrowsmith
  • Date: 1810
  • Medium: Hand-colored engraving
  • Condition: Very Good Plus - original hand-colored outlines, dissected and laid on cartographic linen, light age toning and foxing, a few minor separations at issued folds
  • Inches: 4 sheets, each 33 ¼ x 27 [66 ½ x 54 total]
  • Centimeters: 4 sheets, each 84.46 x 68.58 [168.91 x 137.16 total]
  • Product ID: 316063

Map of present-day Mexico and the southwestern United States by British cartographer Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823). Born in the county of Durham, Arrowsmith moved to London around 1770 and set up shop as a surveyor, engraver, and publisher. By 1790, he had established himself with the publication of a large world map based on the Mercator Projection. While the largest work he produced over the course of his career was an 1822 map of Southern India printed on eighteen sheets, his Chart of the Pacific Ocean published in 1798 stands as his most highly-regarded work. Arrowsmith also published maps of America and the United States, which Meriwether Lewis studied in great detail prior to leading the Corps of Discovery expedition (1803-1806) with William Clark.

Arrowsmith’s reputation as a cartographer lies mostly with his large scale maps which he would periodically revise and reissue based on the latest cartographic discoveries. However, he also published smaller maps, as well as a few atlases. In 1810, he was awarded the position of Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) and upon the Prince’s ascension to the throne in 1820 became Hydrographer to His Majesty. His work was noted for its precision, accuracy, and reliability. Following Arrowsmith’s death, the firm carried on under the leadership of his two sons Samuel and Aaron the younger, as well as his nephew John Arrowsmith.

Arrowsmith’s New Map Of Mexico shows the Pacific coast from Guatemala up to the California-Oregon border at the 42nd Parallel, and extends eastward to the mouth of the Mississippi. The map’s lower right quadrant contains two inset maps, one of the city of Veracruz and one of Acapulco, and its lower left quadrant features a larger inset of the ‘Valley of Mexico’ showing the environs of Lake Texcoco and Mexico City. Though the map’s text is written in English, a legend to the lower left explaining the use of various symbols appears in French, a holdover from Humboldt’s map (there are a few other instances of French text as well). Arrowsmith includes annotations throughout the map remarking on the region’s climate, history, and people, and notes significant expeditions which passed through the areas in question. Along the Pacific coast appears the sea route taken in 1792 by British Captain George Vancouver (1757-1798) as he surveyed the Pacific Northwest. Longitude west from the Greenwich Meridian.

Arrowsmith certainly based a good portion of his map on Alexander von Humboldt’s Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain, a painstakingly-detailed natural survey of Mexico which Humboldt had written following a five-year stint in the New World from 1799-1804. Though Humboldt (1769-1859) accused Arrowsmith of plagiarism, Arrowsmith’s depictions of the Northwest, the California coast, and the river systems of Texas were drawn from other cartographic sources such as Captain Vancouver, the explorer Zebulon Pike (1779-1813), and the Hudson’s Bay Company.

New Map
Adjacent Provinces
Compiled From
Original Documents
By A. Arrowsmith
London. Published 5th. October 1810. by A. Arrowsmith 10 Soho Sque.
Hydrographer to His Majesty.
Engraved by E. Jones