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Waiting For Lewis & Clark

Fascinating map of North America, reflecting the knowledge of the American West on the eve of the publication of the first official account and map of Lewis & Clark's expedition from the Missouri River to the mouth of the Columbia River.

The large partially defined area shown as Louisiana is a representation of Louisiana shortly after the Louisiana Purchase.   

Focusing on the river systems above the Pawnee Villages on the Missouri River, a very defined set of rivers is shown flowing east from the Rocky Mountains. This is the cartographic detail found in Arrowsmith's map of North America, which was instrumental in Lewis & Clark's search for a portage across the Rocky Mountains and on to the Pacific. The northern Rocky Mountains tease several option further north in the region then the domain of the Hudson's Bay Company. 

Excellent detail along the NW Coast of America. The treatment of California, Oregon and Utah, shows a marvelous picture of the relative void of reliable information in the interior parts of the West on the eve of the official reports of Humboldt, Pike, and Lewis & Clark. Classic depiction of Mexico and Upper California on the eve of Mexico's independence from Spain.

The map includes excellent detail in Canada, especially the unsettled western portions, east of the Rocky Mountains.

This is one of the more interesting pre-Lewis & Clark maps of the West, with some effort at the supposed course of the Missouri, above the Mandan Villages, with some other conjectural watershed east of Puget Sound, but largely left blank. One of the last commercial maps of the period not to provide exaggerated and unknown regions with bold (and inaccurate) claims. Fascinating northern coastline for Alaska and Canada along the Northwest Passage.

John Cary Biography

John Cary (1755-1835) was a British cartographer and publisher best known for his clean engraving and distinct style which influenced the entire map industry. Born in Wiltshire, John was apprenticed to an engraver in London. He started his own business by 1782 and moved to several premises before settling at 86 St James’s Street in 1820.

Cary had several significant collaborations during his career. John Wallis and Cary diversified Cary’s business to include broader publishing projects. Brother William and John made globes together, while brother Francis participated in the company’s engraving work. Finally, geologist William Smith and Cary developed and sold geological maps, some of the first of their kind. The pair also produced a notable series of county maps starting in 1819. Cary’s atlases, of English counties and the world, were the standard texts of the early nineteenth century. He was appointed surveyor of roads to the General Post Office in 1794, which led to the New Itinerary, first published in 1798.  

John trained his son, George, in engraving and George and his other son, John Jr., took over the business in 1821. It was then known as G. and J. Cary and continued in trade until 1850. The firm’s materials were then acquired by George Frederick Cruchley and then Gall and Inglis. By the time John died in 1835, Cary was the authoritative name in private map publishing and his business was a leader in the field throughout the first half of the nineteenth century.