Rare early English map of the Alaskan Panhandle, illustrating the discoveries and reconnaissance made by the Russian explorer Urey Lisiansky in 1804.
This attractive map depicts Southeastern Alaska in the initial years of Russian settlement of the region. It embraces most of the Alexander Archipelago from Yakutat Bay (at the foot of Mount St. Elias) down to the upper part of Prince of Wales Island in the South, along with the adjacent mainland. Several native villages are marked, as is the recently established capital of Russian America, 'New Archangel' (Sitka). The various islands, bays and fjords have a curious mixture of England and Russian names, owing to the various expeditions from Britain and Russia.
The present map is based on charts by the great Russian explorer and naturalist Urey Lisianksi (1773-1837). Lisianski was the captain of the sloop-of-war Neva, one of the vessels that took part in the first Russian circumnavigation of the World (1803-1806) under Admiral von Krusenstern, which was responsible for some of the era's most important geographical and scientific discoveries in Alaska and Hawaii. In 1804, Lisianski and the Neva played a critical role in securing the Russian victory over the Tlingit nation during the Battle of Sitka, which secured the area for the creation of New Archangel.
Aaron Arrowsmith, then Britain's leading cartographer, prepared the following map, which bears the imprint: ' London: Published by John Booth, Duke Street, Portland Place, March 1st. 1814'. The map was issued as part of the English edition of the Lisiansky's book on his voyage, entitled:
Lisiansky, Urey. A Voyage Round the World: In the Years 1803, 4, 5, & 6; Performed by Order of His Imperial Majesty Alexander the First, Emperor of Russia, in the Ship Neva, by Urey Lisiansky, Captain in the Russian Navy, and Knight of the Orders of St. George and St. Vladimer. (London: Printed for John Booth; and Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, & Brown, 1814).
Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) was born in 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’s three shops 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 HO, Arrowsmith made other important relationships with Alexander Dalrymple, the HBC, and other companies. In 1810 he became Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1820, Hydrographer to the King. He died in 1823, whereby the business passed to his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and, later, his nephew, John.