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Description

A striking map of Peru and Bolivia, published by John Arrowsmith. This map shows more detail than any contemporary commercial atlas map of the region, though western Brazil and the eastern parts of these countries show little other than rivers and is "inhabited by various tribes of unsubdued Indians." Many settlements, roads, geomorphological features, rivers, and more are all shown.

Almost all the geopolitical boundaries shown would change in the century following the publication of this map. In the north, Ecuador was already independent of Gran Colombia, though this is not shown, perhaps due to Arrowsmith's ties with Bolivar. The eastern boundaries with Brazil in the densest Amazon would be poorly defined for a long time. In the south, the War of the Pacific would block Bolivia's access to the coast and extend Peru southwards. America was perhaps not only "ungovernable," but also ill-defined at this time, this would be remedied by another half-century of civil wars and revolutions.

This map is well designed and contains extensive information and detail, typical of Arrowsmith's maps. In all, it is a clear map of western South America, before the continent's borders would be fully cemented in the late 19th century.

The map appeared in John Arrowsmith's London Atlas.

John Arrowsmith Biography

The Arrowsmiths were a cartographic dynasty which operated from the late-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth. The family business was founded by Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823), who was renowned for carefully prepared and meticulously updated maps, globes, and charts. He created many maps that covered multiple sheets and which were massive in total size. His spare yet exacting style was recognized around the world and mapmakers from other countries, especially the young country of the United States, sought his maps and charts as exemplars for their own work.

Aaron Arrowsmith was born in County 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 had five premises in his career, most of which 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 Hydrographic Office, Arrowsmith made other important relationships with Alexander Dalrymple, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and others entities. In 1810 he became Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1820, Hydrographer to the King.

Aaron Arrowsmith died in 1823, whereby the business and title of Hydrographer to the King passed to his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and, later, his nephew, John. Aaron Jr. (1802-1854) was a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and left the family business in 1832; instead, he enrolled at Oxford to study to become a minister. Samuel (1805-1839) joined Aaron as a partner in the business and they traded together until Aaron left for the ministry. Samuel died at age 34 in 1839; his brother presided over his funeral. The remaining stock and copper plates were bought at auction by John Arrowsmith, their cousin.

John (1790-1873) operated his own independent business after his uncle, Aaron Arrowsmith Sr., died. After 1839, John moved into the Soho premises of his uncle and cousins. John enjoyed considerable recognition in the geography and exploration community. Like Aaron Jr., John was a founder member of the RGS and would serve as its unofficial cartographer for 43 years. Several geographical features in Australia and Canada are named after him. He carried the title Hydrographer to Queen Victoria. He died in 1873 and the majority of his stock was eventually bought by Edward Stanford, who co-founded Stanford’s map shop, which is still open in Covent Garden, London today.