1815 Thomson Map of the British Isles with Shetland & Orkney Islands

British Isles.

1815 Thomson Map of the British Isles with Shetland & Orkney Islands


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British Isles.
  1815 (dated)    24.25 x 20.25 in (61.595 x 51.435 cm)


This lovely hand-colored 1815 map of the British Isles is beautifully engraved in the minimalist English style pioneered in the early part of the 19th century. This map was issued just as United Kingdom and its allies had just defeated the Napoleon's French Empire. Sadly, the costly war caused United Kingdom began to slide into a post-war economic depression that would trouble the isles for the subsequent decade. Thomson maps are known for their stunning color, awe inspiring size, and magnificent detail. Thomson's work, including this map, represents some of the finest cartographic art of the 19th century. Relief is shown by hachure with towns, cities, and major topographical features identified. Issued in 1814 as plate no. 11 for Edinburgh cartographer John Thomson's 1817 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) 1815.    


Good condition. Original centerfold exhibits some light toning . Some ink marks - see image. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso.


Rumsey 1007.010. Phillips (Atlases) 731. Newberry Library: Ayer 135 T4 1817.