Fine early copy Nicholas King's map, illustrating the Dunbar Expedition Report, one of the two expeditions initiated by President Thomas Jefferson in 1804 (along with the Lewis & Clark and Pike expeditions).
During the fall and winter of 1804-1805, Dr. George Hunter and William Dunbar explored the Ouachita River, a tributary of the Red River, to its source in central Arkansas. After their return, Thomas Freeman and Peter Custis, accompanied by an army contingent commanded by Captain Richard Sparks, set out in April 1806 to map the Red River to its presumed source in the Rocky Mountains. The expedition reached the area of New Boston Texas, before being turned back by a large contingent of Spanish soldiers.
Nicholas King produced two maps in conjunction with these expeditions, a Map of the Red River in Louisiana (1806), and the present map, were privately engraved and printed by Francis Shallus and William Kneass. The maps were the first cartographic effort of any detail to show western Louisiana and northeast Texas. Samuel Latham Mitchell wrote that the Washita River map was "a substantial addition to American Geography." Unfortunately, the maps were apparently suppressed to avoid evidence of the American incursion into New Spain, with the maps surviving in only a few copies.
King's Washita River map finally appeared in an edition of 550 copies published by Houghton Mifflin & Company in 1904, as part of Documents Relating to the Purchase and Exploration of Louisiana. I. The Limits and Bounds of Louisiana. By Thomas Jefferson. II. The Exploration of the Red, the Black and the Washita Rivers. By William Dunbar. Printed from the Original Manuscripts.
The map which we offer was apparently printed for the 1904 edition, but never bound into the book and is in flawless condition. Only 1 copy of the original map has appeared at auction in the past 50 years.