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Scarce example of Edward Stanford's map depicting the entire Arctic Region, featuring the furthest-most points reached by numerous exploring expeditions.

This fascinating map embraces the entire Arctic regions of the World, within a unique ovoid presentation. Centered on the North Pole, it variously extends as far south as 50 to 55 degrees north. All countries are distinguished by their own colors, and major geographic and oceanic features are labeled.

Most interestingly, it features a line labelled "The Probable drift of Nansen 1894" crossing the immediate location of the Geographical Noth Pole. The Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen endeavored an expedition to reach the the North Pole, aboard the ship Fram, from 1893 to 1896. While the Fram did in fact "drift" towards the Pole, Nansen only clamed to have reached 86 °14' North (in 1894) then the furthestmost point north ever reached. It is most curious that this map shows Nansen as having reached the Pole. While Robert Peary clamed (dubiously) to have reached the Pole in 1909, it was only in 1928 that Roald Admundsen could make the undisputed claim to have been the first to reach the North Pole.

Additionally, the American portion of the map, at the Bering Sea, is labelled with information on the seasonal fishing restrictions. The amount of information featured on the map is truly extraordinary, and is unrivalled by any Arctic map of comparable size.

The map was issued around 1896 by Edward Stanford, then Britain's leading map publisher, in an effort to capitalize on the great contemporary interest in Polar expeditions, seen as the 'last frontier' in global exploration. Stanford had good connections with academic institutions such as the Royal Geographical Society and government bodies such as the Admiralty, so was always able to gain the most accurate information. The present map was one of Stanford's series of progressively updated maps of the Arctic Regions, the first of which was published around 1875, and the last issued in the 1930s.

This map is rare, as are all other issues of Stanford's Arctic series. We are aware of only a single other example of this edition appearing in dealers' catalogs during the last 25 years.

Edward Stanford Biography

Edward Stanford (1827-1904) was a prominent British mapmaker and publisher. A native of Holborn in the heart of London, Edward was apprenticed to a printer and stationer at the age of 14. After his first master died, he worked with several others, including Trelawny W. Saunders of Charing Cross. Saunders oversaw young Edward’s early career, ensuring that he became a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. Associations with the Society eventually brought Sanders much business and gave him a reputation as a publisher of explorers. As testament to this reputation, the Stanford Range in British Columbia was named for him by John Palliser.

Stanford briefly partnered with Saunders in 1852 before striking out on his own in 1853. He was an agent for the Ordnance Survey, the Admiralty, the Geological Survey, the Trigonometrical Survey of India, and the India Office. He also controlled the maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, another lucrative source of income. In 1857, Stanford founded his namesake Geographical Establishment, with Saunders and A. K. Johnston as engravers. Thereafter, Stanford was known for his “library maps”, particularly those of Africa and Asia.

Although he had authored many maps, the Harrow Atlas of Modern Geography and a similar volume on classical geography, Stanford is better remembered today as the leader of a successful map business. Ever in search of more inventory, he acquired the plates and stock of John Arrowsmith, heir of the Arrowmsith family firm, in 1874. By 1881 he employed 87 people at his premises at 6 Charing Cross Road, Saunders’ old address. As he aged, he phased in his son Edward Jr. to run the business. He died in 1904. The business survived him, and the Stanford’s shop is still a prominent London landmark today.