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First State of Arrowsmith's Map of Mexico

Gorgeous wide-margined example of the first edition of Arrowsmith's Map of Mexico, from an early edition of the London Atlas.

Predating Texas independence by a little more than one year, the map is rich with early cartographic details in Texas and Upper California. The Austin Colony is shown, as is S. Felipe de Austin. At least 10 Indian villages appear. De Witt's colony also appears on the Guadalupe River. Cabello and Gonsalves are also named. At least a dozen early place names appear, with remarkable detail along the coast, Galveston Bay, Matagorda Bay, etc. The detail in Upper California is also noteworthy, although more so for its inaccuracies and myths. The mythical river system of California is still very much in evidence, as is a block shaped Salt Lake. The Gila has its terminus in the Gulf of California. The Marties R. and mythical lake still appear.

While San Francisco Bay is no longer connected to Salt Lake, there is a curious series of rivers and swamps off the Rio Buenaventura near Tahoe and Reno with a note regarding fresh water tides, etc. The American Fur Depot on Salt Lake is named, and the Camino Real and the Missions of Upper California are named. Many early roads and explorations routes are shown, including Captain Bell's route on the Arkansas, Long's Route, the Spanish Trail to Santa Fe, and others.

An essential map for regional collectors.

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.