Fine Map of the World Showing the Discoveries of Captain James Cook & Others
Detailed double hemisphere map of the world, showing tracks of some of the most notable contemporary explorers, including James Cook and George Anson. It was drawn by Samuel Dunn, a noted mathematician and navigation expert.
The hemispheres portray the western and eastern hemispheres, which are described as the “New World” and the “Old World.” North America remains unfinished in the far north, indicating an area for further exploration. Tasmania is still shown as connected to Australia, as Matthew Flinders had yet to survey the area with his friend, George Bass. Antarctica is also missing from both hemispheres, as it was not sighted until 1820, when Fabian Gottlieb von Bellingshausen and Mikhail Lazarev encountered the Fimbul Ice Shelf. The map shows the "Corean Sea,” a common orthographical mistake at this time.
Behind the hemispheres there is little embellishment; the focus is on the tracks of the explorers and the areas yet to be probed by ships and trekkers. Delicately engraved lines make up the background, while a simple cartouche at the top center declares the title and maker, Samuel Dunn, mathematician. A corresponding cartouche at the center bottom includes the publisher’s information and date of publication.
The tracks included correspond to the voyages of James Cook and George Anson, the two most famous British circumnavigators of the eighteenth century. Other explorers are mentioned, but their tracks are not included. For example, near Vancouver Island (not labelled as such on this map, as Vancouver was still surveying the Pacific Northwest on his 1791-1795 expedition) is Dixon’s Strait. Today known as Dixon Entrance, this feature was named for the Royal Naval officer George Dixon, who surveyed the area in 1787. Joseph Banks, the famous botanist and gentleman who sailed with Cook on his first voyage, named the feature for Dixon.
George Anson’s voyage does have its track shown. He set out in 1740 with a squadron of six ships and 1,900 men to harass Spanish trade in the Pacific, part of the War of Jenkins’ Ear and, eventually, the War of Austrian Succession. By 1743, Anson had crossed the Pacific after raiding the west coast of South America. After repairing his only remaining ship at Macao, Anson let Chinese officials know that he was headed for Britain; in reality, he sailed to the Philippines to await the entrance of the Acapulco galleon. Remarkably, the Centurion took the Nuestra Señora de la Covadonga with only light casualties.
James Cook is certainly the most-represented explorer on this map, with all three of his epic voyages marked out. His first was in 1768-1771, when he went to Tahiti to observe the Transit of Venus in the company of Joseph Banks. The second, from 1772-5, was in search of the great southern continent, the existence of which he disproved by crossing the Arctic Circle three times. His third, and final, expedition, was to seek the Northwest Passage. He set off in 1776 and died in 1780, in Hawaii. His legacy loomed large over the Pacific and over exploration, as this map shows.
Samuel Dunn, mathematics teacher, died in 1794, making this one of his final works.
Samuel Dunn (bap. 1723-1794) was a teacher of mathematics and navigation who published, among other things, maps and charts. Although information about his early education is lacking, by age nineteen he was leading his own school and teaching writing, accounting, navigation, and mathematics in Devon. In 1751, he moved to London, where he taught in several schools and tutored privately.
By the 1760s, Dunn was known as a respected astronomer and had published a range of textbooks on math, navigation, and astronomy. After the publication of the Nautical Almanac, Dunn acted as a certifier of ships’ masters under the new system, on behalf of the Board of Longitude. He performed similar work for the East India Company, as well as made charts of the East Indies. In 1776 he published A New Variation Atlas and, in 1777, A New Epitome of Practical Navigation, or, Guide to the Indian Seas. By 1780, he was named editor of the New Directory for the East Indies, which included his own charts. In 1786, he released a pioneering study, Theory and Practice of Longitude at Sea. He also designed several instruments for navigation.
Dunn died at his home in Fleet Street in January 1794. His books and maps were auctioned at Sothebys in a sale of over 1,000 lots. Many of these were bought by Alexander Dalrymple, hydrographer of the East India Company and soon-to-be-named first head of the Hydrography Office.