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An Adams Onis Treaty Rarity

First State of this rare separately issued map of Texas, Louisiana, and the West, published in Paris by Pierre Antoine Tardieu, between the time of the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty (February 22, 1819) and its effective date (February 22, 1821).

As noted below, Tardieu's map is exceptional, providing more detail than even John Melish's Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions. which was utilized by Spain and the United States to illustrate the Adams Onis Treaty. 

The Adams–Onís Treaty of 1819 resulted in Spain ceding Florida to the U.S. and defining he boundary between the U.S. and New Spain. It settled a standing border dispute between the two countries   The treaty established the boundary of U.S. territory and claims through the Rocky Mountains and west to the Pacific Ocean, in exchange for the U.S. paying residents' claims against the Spanish government up to a total of $5,000,000 and relinquishing the US claims on parts of Spanish Texas west of the Sabine River and other Spanish areas, under the terms of the Louisiana Purchase. 

The map provides an exceptionally well researched depiction of the region following the signing of the Adams-Onis Treaty, which formally defined the boundary between Spanish Mexico (1 year prior to Mexican independence) and American Louisiana (as acquired from France in 1803).  The lack of a British-American boundary in the northwest beyond the Rockies incorporates the agreement (to disagree) between Britain and the United States for this region, an impasse which would not be resolved for another quarter century. 

Unknown to Carl Wheat and other early American writers, the map is almost certainly the finest European map of the period, meticulously incorporating the published works of Humboldt, Lewis & Clark, Pike, Darby, Melish, Aaron Arrowsmith and the noted Spanish mapmaker, Joaquin de Ferrer.  As noted on the map

This Map is executed according to the astronomical observations of Baron de Humboldt, and Don Joaquin de Ferrer. For Upper Louisiana, we have profited of the maps and travels of Pike, and those of Lewis and Clark; for Lower Louisiana, of the map and description of this State by M. Darby; for the Territory of Arkansas and the Province of Texas, of the map of the United States by M. Melish and for Mexico of the map of New Spain by Baron de Humboldt, and that of this country by M. Arrowsmith. . .

Published by the prestigious Tardieu firm in Paris, the map is quite exceptional, almost certainly benefitting from relationships forged in America over the preceding decades. For example, Thomas Jefferson maintained correspondence with the Tardieu family.  The Tardieus exchanged maps with Thomas Jefferson on several occasions, specially in aid of the Tardieu's efforts to incorporate information from Lewis & Clark and others into their maps (see, e.g. letter from P.A.F. Tardieu to Jefferson dated May 30, 1809. ).   Thomas Jefferson wrote to Tardieu on one occasion, thanking him for his excellent maps of the United States and the Bay of Mexico, and in return, Jefferson sent Tardieu a survey of the Mississippi River from its source to the mouth of the Ohio, and promises a map of Louisiana from "Gov. Lewis, who conducted the journey to the South Sea as soon as it appears."

Tardieu's map incorporates the work of the most important American and European sources, including Melish's fine large format map of the US published in 1816, Alexander von Humboldt's map of "new Spain," Darby's remarkable large format map of Louisiana, first published in 1816 and the maps included in Zebullon Pike's Report.

The final mapmaker mentioned is Joaquin de Ferrer, whose contribution (and possible contact with Tardieu), is perhaps the most fascinating. José Joaquín Ferrer y Cafranga (1763-1818), was a Spanish Basque cartographer and astronomer, and was one of the last great figures of the Ilustración Borbonica, or the Spanish Enlightenment. Ferrer spent most of the 1790s in Cadiz, assisting the Armada Real in the production of the Portulano de la America Setentrional. However, Ferrer, who held distinctly liberal beliefs, became disaffected with the political situation in Spain, and set sail for America in 1799.

For the next 14 years, Ferrer was based in New York, and while earning a lucrative living as a merchant, found ample time to pursue his passions in astronomy and geography, traveling widely through America and the Caribbean. In 1809, several of his papers were published within the prestigious Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. In 1813, Ferrer travelled to London to study at the Greenwich Observatory, where he became acquainted with some of the Britain's leading intellectuals. The following year he studied at the Institute de France in Paris. Shortly thereafter, Ferrer returned to Spain, where he commenced work on the Portulano de los Estados Unidos.

While the Portulano was in production in Madrid, Ferrer dedicated himself full-time to the pursuit of academic projects. He became a fellow of the Real Academia de la Historia and the Real Sociedad Vascongada (Royal Basque Society). Ferrer retired to Bilbao in 1817, and died on May 18, 1818. Unfortunately, it is likely that he never saw a completed example of the Portulano de los Estados Unidos. 

Comparing Tardieu's Map To Melish ahd others

A comparison of Tardieu's map to the most up to date versions of John Melish's map of Map of the United States with the Contiguous British & Spanish Possessions and John Hamilton Robinson's rare wall map entitled Map of Mexico, Louisiana, and the Missouri Territory (Philadelphia 1819), it is clearly that Tardieu's map is vastly superior.  While Robinson's map is very large and detailed, it is relatively inaccurate and incomplete in comparison to the maps of Melish and Tardieu, giving relativey naive treatments of the Pacific Northwest, West Coast and other regions.

When compared to Melish's map, Tardieu's map is quite extraordinary.  Tardieu clearly benefits from the information incorporated from Arrowsmith's map of North America, with more advanced treatment of the area of Vancouver Island, the Upper Columbia River Basin and the region which would become Washington State, with a more advanced understanding of both the details and topography of the region, likely derived from Hudson's Bay Company sources.

In Upper California and the Great Desert, the Tardieu map is also the more advanced production.  Tardieu names and includes information from the Escalante-Dominguez expedition of 1777, likely derived from Ferrer and his Spanish sources, resulting in a far more detailed treatment of the regions west of the Rocky Mountains and the Colorado River Basin, with significantly more place names, topography and details.  One notable exception is Tardieu's rejection of the California Mountains.  Tardieu's treatment of San Francisco Bay is also more advanced, again likely benefitting from his Spanish sources.  Tardieu also incorporates the Camino Real in California, as well as ancillary roads and names more of the Spanish missions.  In the area of the Gila, Tardieu's map provides better Indian and hydrographical details.

In Texas, Tardieu's map is far more advanced.  The coastal details and contours are far more advanced, again benefitting from Ferrer's contributions from the Portulano Septentrional and its meticulous treatment of the bays on the Texas Coast.  In the Texas Interior, Tardieu provides more place names.

In the Missouri River Valley, Tardieu's map presents information on the populations of Indian Villages and provides a more ambitious effort at topographical accuracy in the mountainous regions.

Looking to the sources of the Mississippi River, Lake of the Woods and Lake Winnepeg, Tardieu's map is again the superior product, making better use of the available Hudsons Bay Company Sources.  Examples of the more advance nature of the Tardieu include arrows showing the direction rivers are flowing in the complex waterways north of the Lake of the Woods and a portage from Lake of the woods to "R  du Rat."  The Rivers and Lakes south and west of Lake Winnepeg are also far more advanced on the Tardieu.

States & Rarity

There appears to be 3 states of the map, all extremely rare. 

The states can be differentiated as follows:

  • State 1.  Arrowsmith referenced in the credit note at the bottom center of the map. 
  • State 2.  To the right of Goujon's credit, a fourth seller has been added "New-York: Anthy. Girard Mercht. Agent for the Author". 
  • State 3.  Arrowsmith credit removed, with the credit modified to add more details regarding incorporation of information from Humboldt

We have assumed the foregoing order of the 3 states, in large part because the "Anthony Girard" selling credit is on State 2 and State 3 in exactly the same position.  In fact, a very close examination reveal the remnants of the letters to the right of Melish's name, which are removed from state 3.  


This example of the map was acquired from a collection of maps which were previously owned by a 19th Century Prussian Foreign Ministry and later by a late 19th Century Ukranian Library and  WWII era German Ambassador in Russia. The numbering on the map corresponds to the Prussian Foreign Ministry collection, which was formed in the first quarter of the 19th Century, based upon the information gleaned from this and other maps in the collection.

Condition Description
2 sheets, joined.
Pierre Antoine Tardieu Biography

Pierre Antoine Tardieu (1784-1869), also known to sign his works as PF Tardieu, was a prolific French map engraver and geographer. The Tardieu family, based in Paris, was well known for their talent in engraving, cartography, and illustration. Pierre Antoine’s father, Antoine Francois Tardieu, was an established cartographer who published numerous atlases. His son is said to have collaborated with him for many years before establishing his own independent career.

Pierre Antoine Tardieu’s most famous work includes engravings of the islands of La Palma and Tenerife, for which in 1818 he was awarded a bronze medal by King Louis-Phillipe for the beauty and accuracy of his mapping. Other famous work includes his mapping of Louisiana and Mexico, engravings of Irish counties, maps of Russia and Asia, and his highly celebrated illustrations of all the provinces of France. He was also the first mapmaker to engrave on steel.

Tardieu was a popular map engraver in his lifetime, enjoying the patronage of the likes of Alexander von Humboldt and respect among his peers. In 1837, he was appointed the title Chevalier de la Légion d’honneur. As was written in his obituary in the Bulletin of the Geographical Society of France, he was renowned for his combination of technical talent and scholarly research skills and praised for furthering his family’s well-respected name in the scientific arts.