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Aaron Arrowsmith's rare antique four-sheet map of the East Indies, with additions to 1812.

The map shows the coasts of Burma, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Philippines, and West Papua. Depths are shown.

The title is set at the upper left sheet, with a graticulated border, grid at one-degree intervals, numerous coastal soundings, wind directions, and shoals indicated. The map includes details of the best clipper routes to China at various months of the year, as well as the routes of various English navigators, including Cook.

An impressive four sheet chart of the navigation routes through the southeast Asian archipelago to China and the Philippines. Arrowsmith was a very inventive and accurate mapmaker. This wall map may have been commissioned specifically for an Asian trading company and was certainly aimed at English captains and companies trading to China and southeast Asia.

The detail on depth soundings, winds, obstructions, and general accuracy is a trademark of Arrowsmith's fine work. Arrowsmith moved to London in 1770 and was employed by both Faden and John Cary. In 1790, he set up on his own and made his reputation with his 8 sheet world map on Mercator's projection, 1790. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the Hydrographical office of the Royal Navy sent its surveying ships Sulphur, Samarang, Herald and others to the region that accurate nautical charts became available.

This is a rare Arrowsmith chart. We have handled this edition only one other time, in 2015. We note an example of the 1824 edition in a dealer catalog (Shapero, 2004, Item 219) and one example of the 1809 edition (Manasek, 1992, Item 25). Christie's offered a copy of the 1812 edition of the chart in their July 15, 2005 Travel Sale (Lot 65).

Condition Description
4 sheets, unjoined. Minor soiling.
Aaron Arrowsmith Biography

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.