Fine example of Arrowsmith's map of America, in four sheets.
An excellent map of America on the eve of the explorations of Lewis & Clark, Humbolt. Pike, Long and others. The map reflects the updates in the Northwest Coast of America to account for the voyages of Cook, Vancouver, Mears, La Perouse and others. Arrowsmith drew from several sources whilst composing the map, most notably from Mackenzie's 1789 exploration of the Rocky Mountains and the Canadian Northwest, an account of which was subsequently produced in 1798. Mackenzie had been comissioned by the North-West Fur Company and, remarkably, traversed almost 3,000 miles in just 120 days. Early editions of this map, of which the present example is one, also act as a snap-shot of America before the exploration by Alexander von Humboldt. In later editions Arrowsmith incorporates many of Humbolt's findings.
The Missions in Upper California are named. The Missouri R. extends fare north of its true source and references Tall & Manders Indian Villages. Columbia R is similarly mislocated. Extensive forts in the Mississippi Valley. A fine depiction of the Americas, one year after the Louisiana Purchase and on the eve of the discovery of the Western parts of North America, Mexico's independence and the century of Revolution in South America.
The Arrowsmiths were a cartographic dynasty which operated from the late-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth. The family business was founded by Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823), who was renowned for carefully prepared and meticulously updated maps, globes, and charts. He created many maps that covered multiple sheets and which were massive in total size. His spare yet exacting style was recognized around the world and mapmakers from other countries, especially the young country of the United States, sought his maps and charts as exemplars for their own work.
Aaron Arrowsmith was born in County Durham in 1750. He came to London for work around 1770, where he found employment as a surveyor for the city’s mapmakers. By 1790, he had set up his own shop which specialized in general charts. Arrowsmith had five premises in his career, most of which were located on or near Soho Square, a neighborhood the led him to rub shoulders with the likes of Joseph Banks, the naturalist, and Matthew Flinders, the hydrographer.
Through his business ties and employment at the Hydrographic Office, Arrowsmith made other important relationships with Alexander Dalrymple, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and others entities. In 1810 he became Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1820, Hydrographer to the King.
Aaron Arrowsmith died in 1823, whereby the business and title of Hydrographer to the King passed to his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and, later, his nephew, John. Aaron Jr. (1802-1854) was a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and left the family business in 1832; instead, he enrolled at Oxford to study to become a minister. Samuel (1805-1839) joined Aaron as a partner in the business and they traded together until Aaron left for the ministry. Samuel died at age 34 in 1839; his brother presided over his funeral. The remaining stock and copper plates were bought at auction by John Arrowsmith, their cousin.
John (1790-1873) operated his own independent business after his uncle, Aaron Arrowsmith Sr., died. After 1839, John moved into the Soho premises of his uncle and cousins. John enjoyed considerable recognition in the geography and exploration community. Like Aaron Jr., John was a founder member of the RGS and would serve as its unofficial cartographer for 43 years. Several geographical features in Australia and Canada are named after him. He carried the title Hydrographer to Queen Victoria. He died in 1873 and the majority of his stock was eventually bought by Edward Stanford, who co-founded Stanford’s map shop, which is still open in Covent Garden, London today.