Nicely hand-colored example of Tallis's map of North America, stretching from Panama to the unmapped "Arctic Highlands" of the "Parry Islands" (Queen Elizabeth Islands). This map was engraved for R. Montgomery Martin's Illustrated Atlas. The map includes a decorative border.
The map includes numerous decorative vignettes from all over the continent, as well as Europe and Asia. These include views of Esquimaux, Mount Hekla (in Iceland), beavers, Niagara Falls, a convoy of diamonds in South America, and ancient monuments in Mexico, North American Indians, Wapiti Deer, and Russian Cossacks, all in the same image.
Despite the late date of publication of this map, the American West is barely recognizable. "Upper California" stretches eastwards to the Rocky Mountains, as does Oregon. The Missouri Territory, Nebraska, and the Western Territories form most of the remaining Midwest east of Minnesota. New Mexico comprises the Texas Panhandle. Alaska is well-defined but named Russian America (it would not be transferred until 1867).
Tallis was one of the last great decorative map makers. His maps are prized for the wonderful vignettes of indigenous scenes, people, and more that they often show.
John Tallis (1817-1876) was a British map publisher. Born in the Midlands, Tallis came to London in the 1840s. Tallis began his London career with a series of remarkable London street views. He began a partnership with a Frederick Tallis, possibly his brother, but their collaboration ended in 1849. For the Great Exhibition of 1851, Tallis published the Illustrated World Atlas, one of the last series of decorative world maps ever produced. The maps were engraved by John Rapkin, a skilled artisan. The maps were later reissued by the London Printing & Publishing Company, who left the Tallis imprint intact, thus ensuring his enduring fame. In 1858, he began publication of the popular Illustrated News of the World and National Portrait Gallery of Eminent Personages, selling it in 1861 (it ceased publication in 1863).