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Striking wash color example of John Pinkerton's scarce map of North America.

Pinkerton's map is one of the best English maps of North America to appear on the eve of the report of Lewis & Clark's return. Wheat regarded this map as noteworthy for its treatment of both the early Lewis & Clark reports and the integration of information from Pike. Wheat notes the Pinkerton's map introduced a cartographic innovation, by showing a dashed line leading northwesterly, named Missouri River, according to former conjectures.

To the south, proceeding west in the style of Soulard's maps, appears the words Missouri River according to Capt. Lewis. The R. Jefferson and Madison R. appear at the headwaters of the Missouri, just east of a single range cordillera named Rocky Mountains. The Gallatin River is also named.

Wheat also notes that Pike struggled to reconcile Soulard's maps with Pike's treatment of the Missouri Bassin. Pike's highest peak is shown but not named, and the Kansas, Arkansas, Rio Bravo del Norte, Colorado (of the West) and R. De S. Buenaventura, all flow in various directions, the latter reaching the western limits of Valle Salado, a hint of Escalante. Pinkerton ignored the Yellowstone River completely. Wheat noted that Pinkerton's text book was a veritable book of obsolete cartography, primarily the result of his struggle to reconcile Soulard and Pike. An essential map for Western and Northwestern collectors.

Wheat 311.
John Pinkerton Biography

John Pinkerton (1758-1826) was Scottish literary critic, historian, poet, and geographer. From age twelve he educated himself at home in Edinburgh, as his father had declined to send him to university. His father instead apprenticed John to a lawyer, William Aytoun, but the boy did not like the legal profession. In his spare time, the young man wrote poetry and collected Scottish ballads, which he tried to have published. After the death of his father, Pinkerton moved to London in 1781, to be closer to the vibrant literary scene.

Pinkerton’s earliest publications were collections of ballads. However, a fellow critic uncovered that Pinkerton had forged several of the “ancient” poems and published accusations against Pinkerton in the Gentleman’s Magazine. Throughout the 1780s, Pinkerton published poetry, works on numismatics, and historical works. He corresponded with Sir Walter Scott, Horace Walpole, and Edward Gibbon, but most of his friendships ended in acrimony. Pinkerton was a hypochondriac, unorthodox about morality and religion, and a prickly personality who lived with several women during his lifetime, marrying illegally at least once.

After 1800, Pinkerton turned to geographical works. In 1802 he published Modern Geography, a text that was quite popular and translated into French and Italian. In 1808-15, he produced a New Modern Atlas, which was well received, followed by A General Collection of Voyages and Travels (1808-14). Soon after these projects, Pinkerton moved to Paris, where he lived until he died in 1826.