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A Republic of Texas Icon -- One Of The Most Sought After Maps of the Republic of Texas

A nice example of Arrowsmith's landmark map of Texas.

John Arrowsmith first issued his Map of Texas, in 1841, with several subsequent issued during the Republic of Texas period.  The map immediately became the model for maps of the new republic and was copied extensively by other publishers.  The present example is the first state of the map, drawn from Kennedy's book.

Arrowsmith's map contains the most up-to-date depiction of the latest political divisions. In addition, four years of study by the General Land Office of Texas provided Arrowsmith with the latest information on geographical features, roadways, and the location of Indian tribes. The seals of the Republic of Texas and the General Land Office of Texas appear beneath the title. Below, a statement indicates that Texas was "Recognized as an Independent State by Great Britain, 16th Novr., 1840."

The map was issued at a time when Great Britain was actively trying to establish a source for cotton in an independent Texas, and so opposed its annexation to the United States. British diplomats attempted to draw a treaty with Texas, France, and Mexico, while the United States debated the issue of Texas's admission to the union. Arrowsmith's map stands as an endorsement of the most extensive territorial claims made by the Republic of Texas.

Martin & Martin note:

Arrowsmith's map was probably the first to show the full extent of Texas's claim to the region of the upper Rio Grande, an area included within Texas's boundaries until the Compromise of 1850.. The popularity and general acceptance of the map has been documented by the fact that many map makers copied liberally from Arrowsmith's map, including some of its errors. For example, a number of later maps continued Arrowsmith's statement printed on the western, arid region of Texas that "this tract of Country explored by LeGrande in 1833 is naturally fertile well wooded & with a fair proportion of water.

Editorial comments throughout the map reveal its intention to encourage development with phrases such as "good land," "rich land well timbered," "beautiful prairie," and "valuable land." A forest shown below the Red River is Lower Cross Timbers, which was considered in 1834, by the U.S. Government, to be the "western boundary of habitable land."

The map appeared in 3 forms:

  • Separately published map
  • Arrowsmith's London Atlas
  • William Kennedy's The Rise, Progress, and Prospects of the Republic of Texas, published in London in 1841.

The map is scarce on the market.

A cornerstone map for Texas collectors.

Amon Carter Museum, Crossroads of Empire, p. 35; Martin & Martin, pl. 32, pp. 55, 127; Streeter, Texas, 1373a; Taliaferro, p. 15; Wheat, p. 173-74, no. 451.
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.