Scarce John Cary map of Poland published during "the Partitions." The map itself is detailed, showing the cities, rivers, lakes, and forests of Poland. Regions are named, including the Great Duchy of Lithuania, Polachia, Mascovia, Red Russia, Black Russia, Little and Great Poland, Ukraine, Tartary, and many more. Parts of adjacent countries are shown including Sweden, Russia, Germany, and Hungary.
The most interesting part of the map is the three lines showing the delimitations of what each country would like to claim. Russia proposes to take a small portion of eastern Poland, while Austria targets Galicia. Prussia looks to expand the area around its kingdom.
The partitions were the culmination of a century-long decline in Polish power. The liberum veto which could be exercised by any nobleman had effectively paralyzed the state. While unofficial encroachments had occurred for many years prior, the first partition was formally agreed in by the conquering nations in 1772. A second partition would ensue in 1790, and a final partition by 1795. While the first move may have been motivated solely by a hunger for new land, scholarship suggests that the final annihilations of Poland were in response to Poland's recovery after the first partition, and a motivation to keep the balance of power in the region.
The partition shown here appears to match the terms of the 1772 partition most closely, suggesting that it was published prior to 1790. Other editions of this map are dated to 1785.
John Cary (1755-1835) was a British cartographer and publisher best known for his clean engraving and distinct style which influenced the entire map industry. Born in Wiltshire, John was apprenticed to an engraver in London. He started his own business by 1782 and moved to several premises before settling at 86 St James’s Street in 1820.
Cary had several significant collaborations during his career. John Wallis and Cary diversified Cary’s business to include broader publishing projects. Brother William and John made globes together, while brother Francis participated in the company’s engraving work. Finally, geologist William Smith and Cary developed and sold geological maps, some of the first of their kind. The pair also produced a notable series of county maps starting in 1819. Cary’s atlases, of English counties and the world, were the standard texts of the early nineteenth century. He was appointed surveyor of roads to the General Post Office in 1794, which led to the New Itinerary, first published in 1798.
John trained his son, George, in engraving and George and his other son, John Jr., took over the business in 1821. It was then known as G. and J. Cary and continued in trade until 1850. The firm’s materials were then acquired by George Frederick Cruchley and then Gall and Inglis. By the time John died in 1835, Cary was the authoritative name in private map publishing and his business was a leader in the field throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.