The Greatest Early American Map of Africa.
Rare American imprint copying Arrowsmith's important wall map, the latter of which was originally published in 1802.
"One of the greatest maps ever published. Arrowsmith simply stripped away centuries of accumulated myth, misconception, and unsustainable guesswork, and took the mapping of Africa back to the bare bones of substantiated fact, leaving the interior as a blank canvas, a challenge to a new generation of explorers. As a picture, many of his predecessors of a century earlier would not have thought of publishing it, as a statement of intent it raised the standard for geographical accuracy above that practised by the vast majority of his contemporaries" (Mapforum #5).
The American Arrowsmith Africa
There are three known states of the American version of the Arrowsmith Africa. The first was published in Philadelphia in1812, by Kimber & Conrad and Johnston & Warner. The second state was printed in 1831 and removes the dedication. This, the third state of 1840 adds the inset at upper right.
We extend our thanks to Ashley for his assistance in cataloging this map.
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.