1814 Thomson Map of the English Channel

The British Channel.

1814 Thomson Map of the English Channel


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The British Channel.
  1814 (dated)    20.5 x 25.5 in (52.07 x 64.77 cm)


A fine example of John Thomson's 1814 map of the British or English Channel. Depicts England from Cornwall eastward as far as Canterbury and the Strait of Dover. Extends northward as far as Pembroke Shire and St. Brides Bay. Includes London and the Isle of Wright. On the opposite side of the English Channel this map covers from Goulet Harbor eastward to Boulogne. Minimal inland detail but excellent coastal coverage is offered throughout. During the Napoleonic Wars, which would end at Waterloo just one year after this map was engraved, the English Channel became a major hotbed of smuggling and war profiteering, with English textiles flooding into continental Europe. Thomson maps are known for their stunning color and size, and represent some of the finest cartographic art of the 19th century. Engraved by J. and G. Menzies of Edinburgh for issue as plate no. 15 in the 1817 edition of Thomson's New General Atlas.


Thomson's New General Atlas was first published in 1817 and continued to be published until about 1821. This is the first of Thomson's major cartographic works and the atlas for which is most celebrated. The New General Atlas follows in the Edinburgh School, which eschews excessive decoration in favor of a more minimalized fact -based cartographic vision, as established by John Pinkerton and others in the previous decades. The maps are notable for their massive scale, heavy stock, elegant color work, and easy-to-read typefaces. Although the atlas stopped being published after 1821, Thomson continued to offer 'supplementary' maps that could be tipped into the atlas as late as 1830, when he declared bankruptcy. The maps in the Thomson Atlas were engraved by Thomas Clerk, William Dassauville, Nathaniel Rogers Hewitt, James Kirkwood, Robert Kirkwood, John Menzies, George Menzies, Edward Mitchell, John Moffatt, Samuel John Neele, Robert Scott, and James Wyld.John Thomson (fl. 1804 - 1837) was a Scottish cartographer, publisher and bookbinder active in Edinburgh during the early part of the 19th century. Thomson is generally one of the leading masters of the Edinburgh school of cartography which flourished from roughly 1800 to 1830. Thomson & his contemporaries (Pinkerton & Cary) redefined European cartography by abandoning typical 18th century decorative elements such as elaborate title cartouches and fantastic beasts in favor of detail and accuracy. Thomson's principle works include the Thomson's New General Atlas, published from 1814 to 1821 and his Atlas of Scotland. The "Atlas of Scotland, a work of groundbreaking detail and dedication would eventually bankrupt the Thomson firm in 1830. Today Thomson maps are becoming increasingly rare as they are highly admired for their monumental size, vivid hand coloration, and superb detail.


Thomson, J. A New General Atlas, (Edinburgh) 1814.    


Very good condition. Light transference.


Rumsey 1007.015. Phillips (Atlases) 731. Newberry Library: Ayer +135 T4 (1817 edition).