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A Napoleonic General's Copy of Faden's Map of South America, Commissioned By Thomas Jefferson While Serving As American Ambassador To France and Ultimately Produced In Connection with American and British Efforts To Encourage Revolution in South America.

Fine example of William Faden's edition of the Cruz Cano y Olmedilla map of South America, the most important printed map of South America published in the 18th Century. As described below, production of the map had been commissioned initially by Thomas Jefferson in 1786, although for poltical reasons it had been delayed for nearly a decade. With Britain and America each encouraging revolution in South America in the late 1790s, production of the map became an object of discussion among many important poltical figures in England and America, with the final preparations for publication of the map actively pursued by Francisco Miranda and tracked in correspondence by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, among others.

The present example was acquired from the Library of General Nicolas Charles Oudinot, Marshall of France, who had by 1799 risen to the level of a senior staff General in the French Army.

This remarkable map was originally drawn by Juan de Cruz Cano y Olmedilla under the direction of the Spanish government and is based on cartographic material of Consejo de Indias, Jose de Ayala and the reports of the Jesuits and other missionaries in South America. Juan de la Cruz spent ten years collecting measurements made by explorers and colonists and incorporated in the map valuable geographical and historical news, with some references to the sources used. Measuring approximately 6 x 8 feet, the Cruz Cano map is probably the most important map of South America made in the 18th century. The purpose of the map was to delineate the boundary between Spanish and Portuguese colonies.

As noted by Smith:

In spite of the fact that it was an official project, initiated and paid for by the Spanish Government, it appears to have been withheld from public distribution for a quarter-century following the first printing in 1775. Consequently, it was seldom on the market. Thomas Jefferson and Alexander von Humboldt were both authorities for the statement that the plates had been destroyed. In the years immediately following its appearance and on several occasions during the next century the merits

The map is by far the most precise and complete map of South America and considerably more accurate than any map of North America from this period. It was used in several treaty negotiations during the 19th century, particularly between Brazil and Argentina in 1894. While it was believed that the original plates were destroyed, Smith, in his excellent work on the map, notes that the plates were in use well into the 19th Century.

Faden's issue is an exact copy of the 3rd edition of the Cruz Cano map, omitting the borders and changing the title area. Smith, in his article in Imago Mundi, calls Cruz Cano's map the South American equivalent of Mitchell's map of the British Colonies of 1755. The map was of great importance, as the Spanish authorities decided to surpress the original Cruz Cano, making this map the only obtainable version of Cruz Cano's work. Copies of the map were frequently used in diplomatic negotations.

The Faden edition of the map is discussed by Jeanette Black in Linea Del Castillo, wherein she discussed the changes made by Faden from the original Cruz Cano map as follows:

Explaining the erasure of [the] embellishments from [Faden's] 1799 re-engraving requires a little historical context. Thomas Jefferson sent his third edition of America Meridional to London via the United States diplomatic corps for re-engraving late in 1786. Spain's refusal to allow wider dissemination of this map, postponed the project. By the 1790s, Spain had allied with France against Great Britain and the United States, changing the geopolitical playing field. In August 1798, the US diplomatic corps in London charged pro-independence Spanish American patriot Francisco Miranda with overseeing British mapmaker William Faden's re-engraving. Armed with this geographic vision of South America, Miranda called on British and US diplomats to "wreak the greatest possible injuries upon their enemies" by detaching from Spain an immense, wealthy and heavily populated dominion that could "by a counter stroke be turned to France's advantage." It should therefore not come as a surprise that Faden's 1799 printing omitted the portions of the [Cruz Cano Map] that heralded Spanish imperial control over South America. For not only did Britain and the United States covet this region; so, too, did pro-independence Spanish Americans like Miranda.

Thomas Jefferson's Commission of Faden's Map of South America

As noted above, In 1786, while serving as minister to France, Thomas Jefferson received Cruz Cano's map of South America from William Carmichael and sought to have copies made for himself and Congress. Jefferson enlisted William Stephens Smith, John Adams's son-in-law who was then living in London, to help him commission the London mapmaker William Faden to make these copies. In a letter to Smith, Jefferson described the map and its importance:

The government of Spain at first permitted the map, but the moment they saw one come out, they destroyed the plates, seized all of the few copies which had got out and on which they could lay their hands, and issued the severest injunctions to call in the rest and to prevent their going abroad. Some few copies escaped their search. A friend has by good management procured me one, and it is arrived safe through all the searches that travelers are submitted to.

Sight unseen, Faden agreed to reproduce all twelve sheets of the map. In December 1786, Jefferson sent the map to Faden in care of Smith, and drew up a set of suggestions for republishing the map, including three sketches of the proposed layout of the sheets.

Alexander Hamilton and others Press For The Completion of The Faden Map

In a letter addressing the prospects of Revolution in South America from Rufus King to Alexander Hamilton dated October 20, 1798, King updates Hamilton on the status Francisco Miranda's efforts to secure the production of the map, as part of the broader effort to foment Revolution in South America and enlist British support. King writes: ". . .fortunately some months past I obtained a facsimile of the latest map of the Country. It has been now two months in the Hands of an Engraver, who has engaged to deliver Copies in January."

As scheduled, on January 1, 1799, Faden finally published his copy of Cruz Cano's work, but he neither sent Jefferson the copies he requested nor returned the original. Jefferson, who had enlisted friends such as James Madison to inquire as to Faden's progress, resorted to buying a copy from a London map dealer in 1805, some nineteen years after sending the original to Faden.

General Nicolas Charles Oudinot

Nicolas Charles Oudinot, 1st Comte Oudinot, 1st Duc de Reggio (1767 - 1848), was a Marshal of France. He is known to have been wounded 34 times in battle (by artillery shells, bullets [at least 12], saber slashes and thrusts).

In 1792, Oudinot was elected lieutenant-colonel of the 3rd battalion of the volunteers of the Meuse. He was quickly was transferred to the regular army in November 1793, and after serving in numerous actions on the Belgian frontier he was promoted general of brigade, in June 1794. He served as André Masséna's right hand all through the Swiss campaign of 1799, first as a general of division, then as chief of staff. He was present under Massena at the Siege of Genoa, and so distinguished himself at the Battle of Monzambano that Napoleon presented him with a sword of honour. He was made inspector-general of infantry, and, on the establishment of the empire, given the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honour, but was not included in the first creation of marshals.

Oudinot was elected a member of the chamber of deputies, but had little time to devote to politics. He took a leading role in the war of 1805, commanding the famous division of "grenadiers Oudinot," made up of hand-picked troops and organized by him, with which he seized the Vienna bridges.

In 1808 he was made governor of Erfurt and Count of the French Empire, and in 1809, after the Battle of Wagram, he was promoted to the rank of Marshal of France. He was made a titular duke in chief of the duché-grand fief of Reggio in the satellite Kingdom of Naples.

From 1810 to 1812 Oudinot administered the government of the former Kingdom of Holland, and commanded the II Corps of La Grande Armée in the Russian campaign. On Napoleon's abdication, he rallied to the new government, and was made a Peer of France by the Bourbon Restoration King Louis XVIII. His last active service was in the French invasion of Spain in 1823, in which he commanded a corps and was for a time governor of Madrid. He died as governor of the Parisian veterans institution Les Invalides.


This first Faden issue of Cruz Cano's map is generally considered the earliest obtainable edition, though is itself quite rare.


Purchased at auction in Paris, from Artcuriel, Collections from the Castle of Malicorne Marshal Oudinot's Historical Souvenirs, June 13, 2017 (Lot 156).

Condition Description
Dissected and laid on linen, with an original slipcase.
The Papers of Alexander Hamilton, Volume 22, page 208-09. Thomas R. Smith, Cruz Cano's Map of South America, Madrid, 1775: Its Creation, Adversities and Rehabilitation: Imago Mundi, Vol. 20 (1966), pp. 49-7
William Faden Biography

William Faden (1749-1836) was the most prominent London mapmaker and publisher of the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries. His father, William Mackfaden, was a printer who dropped the first part of his last name due to the Jacobite rising of 1745. 

Apprenticed to an engraver in the Clothworkers' Company, he was made free of the Company in August of 1771. He entered into a partnership with the family of Thomas Jeffreys, a prolific and well-respected mapmaker who had recently died in 1771. This partnership lasted until 1776. 

Also in 1776, Faden joined the Society of Civil Engineers, which later changed its name to the Smeatonian Society of Civil Engineers. The Smeatonians operated as an elite, yet practical, dining club and his membership led Faden to several engineering publications, including canal plans and plans of other new engineering projects.

Faden's star rose during the American Revolution, when he produced popular maps and atlases focused on the American colonies and the battles that raged within them. In 1783, just as the war ended, Faden inherited his father's estate, allowing him to fully control his business and expand it; in the same year he gained the title "Geographer in Ordinary to his Majesty."

Faden also commanded a large stock of British county maps, which made him attractive as a partner to the Ordnance Survey; he published the first Ordnance map in 1801, a map of Kent. The Admiralty also admired his work and acquired some of his plates which were re-issued as official naval charts.

Faden was renowned for his ingenuity as well as his business acumen. In 1796 he was awarded a gold medal by the Society of Arts. With his brother-in-law, the astronomer and painter John Russell, he created the first extant lunar globe.

After retiring in 1823 the lucrative business passed to James Wyld, a former apprentice. He died in Shepperton in 1826, leaving a large estate.