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Fantastic edition of Bacon's didactic world map and associated depictions. Bacon's exuberant map of the world, which was published in London in the 1870s, was predominantly published in English-language examples.

The lower-right corner includes a portrait of Dr. David Livingstone, of African exploration fame. Livingstone rose to the highest levels of national fame in the United Kingdom in 1874, and this, combined with the G.W. Bacon & Co. imprint, lead us to give the map an approximate date.

The map sheet is composed of a multitude of detailed sections, each carefully edited to reflect English sensibilities. The upper section centers around a kind of world clock giving Paris and Barcelona time; portraits of Columbus, Cook, Raleigh, and Livingstone grace the corners; coins appear from around the world; illustrations of peoples and races of the world display their ethnic garb; and the flags of the world fly (with the British flag of course accentuated). The map also contains coats of arms of various nations, diagrams of rivers and mountains, a general double-hemisphere world map, and a map showing the distribution of the religions of the world.

The map still maintains its appeal to Victorian chauvinism. Despite this, it does as good a job as possible to illustrate the diversity of the world to a general late-19th century audience.

The concept of merging a central map with additional decorative elements and calling the map "pictorial" was common in the mid-19th century, although this work is undoubtedly one of the greatest examples of the style. The format appears to have risen to prominence with Humphrey Phelps in the United States in the 1830s and 40s with his Pictorial View of the World (much less embellished than the present example) and his Ornamental map of the United States and Mexico.

Editions of the Map

Several different editions of this scarce map appeared, with an edition even appearing in French. The changes between one edition and the next are all very minor, with changes to borders, portraits, coloring, and other sensibilities of design. However, two examples of the map rarely appear with the exact same design.

Condition Description
Original hand-color. Folding map with cover. Stabilized with coarse linen on verso. Some wear to folds, as illustrated.
British Library: Cartographic Items Maps 920.(186)