1844 (undated) 15.5 x 11 in (39.37 x 27.94 cm)
1 : 31200000
This is a lovely example of the Adam and Charles Black's 1844 map of Africa. It covers the entire continent from the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean and the South Atlantic, including the island of Madagascar. An inset map in the lower left quadrant details Madeira while another inset in the lower right quadrant details the Yemeni Port of Aden. Various towns, cities, deserts, oases, mountain ranges, rivers and several other topographical details are noted with relief shown by hachure.
A large portion of central Africa remains unexplored though the Sahara or Great Desert is beautifully rendered. The present map exhibits various speculations regarding the unexplored interior of Africa. The course of the White Nile shown here is speculative at best, while Lake Malawi (Maravi) appears in its embryonic form. The cartographer correctly identifies Lake Chad, while a region in modern day Algeria is marked 'Bileduljerid or the Country of Dates.' Several indigenous African tribal kingdoms are identified along the coasts. The Mediterranean regions of Fez, Algeria, Tunisia and Tripoli and the ancient Greek and later Roman, Byzantine colony of Barca are noted. The map also identifies the inland oasis Kingdom of Fezzan. Though mostly desert, 19th century Fezzan had numerous oases and supported a relatively large population. This desert kingdom was a critical stopping point for trade caravans crossing the Sahara since antiquity.
At the time this map was made, the slave trade, thriving since the 5th century was rapidly diminishing due to decreased demand for slaves in the New World, the British outlawing of slavery in 1808, and subsequent diplomatic efforts including treaties with over 50 African rulers outlawing the practice. Many African economies adapted by shifting to the export of mineral and agricultural resources, which led to the European scramble for territory, occupying most of the continent by the end of the 19th century. Europe's colonial interests in Africa haphazardly carved up the continent into unnatural territories, often forcing historic enemies into close proximity and leading to social problems that remain to this day. This map was engraved by Sidney Hall and issued as plate no. XLII in the 1844 edition of Black's General Atlas.
Charles and his uncle Adam Black of Edinburgh, Scotland, founded their publishing firm in 1807. They published a series of maps and atlases throughout the 19th century. In addition to an array of atlases, the Black firm is known for their editions of the Encyclopedia Britannica (1817 - 1826) and the first publishing of Sir Walter Scott's novels in 1854. In 1889 the A. & C. Black publishing house moved to London where it remains in operation to this day.
Sidney Hall (1788 - 1831) was an English engraver and map publisher active in London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His earliest imprints, dating to about 1814, suggest a partnership with Michael Thomson, another prominent English map engraver. Hall engraved for most of the prominent London map publishers of his day, including Aaron Arrowsmith, William Faden, William Harwood, and John Thomson, among others. Hall is credited as being one of the earliest adopters of steel plate engraving, a technique that allowed for finer detail and larger print runs due to the exceptional hardness of the medium. Upon his early death - he was only in his 40s - Hall's business was inherited by his wife, Selina Hall, who continued to publish under the imprint, "S. Hall", presumably for continuity. The business eventually passed to Sidney and Selina's nephew Edward Weller, who became extremely prominent in his own right.
Black, A. and C., Black's General Atlas (Edinburgh), 1844.
Black's General Atlas was a popular Scottish atlas of the world issued by the Edinburgh firm of Adam and Charles Black. This atlas was first issued in 1840 with subsequent editions being printed well into the 1890s. While most editions were printed in Edinburgh, an American edition was issued in 1857. Most early editions of his atlas were engraved by S. Hall. Typically this refers to Sidney Hall, who died in 1831, but in this case, since the engraving was initiated well after his death, it was most likely his widow, Selina Hall, who did the engraving. Later editions feature additional maps updated and engraved by William Hughes. Early editions featured outline color only, but later editions embraced a full color approach with pale green, yellow, and blue pastels. All editions are known for their meticulous presentation of the most up-to-date cartographic information. Moreover, this exceptionally long publication run provides a fine cartographic record of the middle to late 19th century - particularly as regards the complex cartographic evolution of the Americas through this period.
Very good. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso.
Rumsey 2305.048 (1854 edition). Philips (atlases) 4334.