A Seminal Map of Florida, The Caribbean and Texas!
First edition of Arrowsmith's map of Mexico & the West Indies, and the only edition to extend to the Pacific, thereby showing modern Texas and parts of New Mexico and Arizona.
The map is dedicated to Admiral John Willett Payne (1752-1803), "A distinguished Native of the West Indies, Vice Admiral of the Coasts of Devonshire & Corwnwall, Treasurer of Greenwich Hospital, Comptroller General."
The treatment of Texas, Mexico and Central America is the best and most accurate to date. Preceding the maps of Humboldt & Pike, the map is noteworthy in its accurate depiction of the regions addressed by each of these explorers in the following decade.
Alexander von Humboldt spends the better part of 4 pages criticizing the map's accuracy. Rumsey notes that however that it is ironic that Humboldt would criticize Arrowsmith's use of Humboldt's map of Mexico in Arrowsmith's later maps of Mexico, when Arrowsmith created such a detailed and accurate map of the region in the 1803 edition, prior to Humboldt's map. Rumsey further notes that while Arrowsmith's map of Mexico issued in 1810 is a more accurate and detailed treatment of the region, the 1803 map is impressive in its accuracy and detail.
Streeter notes that the coast line follows generally the Carta Esferica of 1799, but with the longitude of Sabine Pass nearly correct, unlike the Carta Esferica.
The map was reduced in subsequent editions, following the issuance of Arrowsmith's case map of Mexico in 1810.
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.