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1848 S.D.U.K. Map of British North America or Canada


British North America.
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Price: $125.00
Title:    British North America.

Description:    This is an attractive full color 1848 edition of the S.D.U.K. map of British North America or Canada. It depicts the British and Russian holdings in North America. Centered on the Hudson bay, the map covers from modern day Alaska (Russian America) to Greenland and from the Arctic south to the U.S. border.

According to the earliest written accounts, the Russians were the first Europeans who reached Alaska and eventually became permanent settlers. The modern Canadian provinces and territories were under British and French control from the 16th century, until France gave up its claims in the Treaty of Paris in 1763. Canada would remain a collection of British colonies until its confederation in 1867, when the British colonies of Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia would become Canadian provinces.

The map offers several elements of considerable cartographic interest. This is the first time in this series that the name 'Oregon' appears on the map and the United States border is set at the 49th parallel following the Oregon Treaty of 1846. In the first half of the 19th century the Pacific Northwest was the last frontier in the century's long slaughter of the American beaver in the name of European fashion. Both the British, in the name of the Hudson Bay Company, and the Americans, championed by John Jacob Astor's Pacific Fur Company, were eager to claim monopolistic right over the region. Astor's establishment of Fort Astoria on the Columbia River only served to further tensions with the Northwest Company - the Pacific subsidiary of the Hudson Bay Company. The dispute escalated, giving rise to the Oregon Boundary Dispute and the American expansionist slogan 'Fifty-four Forty or Fight!' The dispute was not resolved until the 1846 Oregon Treaty which, through concessions on both sides, formally set the boundary at the 49th parallel.

Published in 1848 by Charles Knight of 22 Ludgate Street for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, or S.D.U.K. This was most likely the last edition of the S.D.U.K. atlas to be published before the society formally closed its doors. However, it is known that subsequent reissues of the S.D.U.K. atlas were printed well into the 1870s by Chapman and Hall, who acquired the original plates.


Date:    1848 (undated)

Source:    Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, (London: Charles Knight) 1848.    

References:    Rumsey 0890.126 (1834 edition). Phillips (Atlases) 794.

Cartographer:    The "Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge" was a Whiggish organization founded in 1828 at the instigation of idealistic British lord Henry Peter Brougham. The admirable goal of the Society was to distribute useful information via a series of publications to the English working and middle classes. It promoted self-education and the egalitarian sharing of all knowledge. While closely tied to the London University and publishing houses on the order of Baldwin and Cradock, Chapman and Hall, and Charles Knight, the Society failed to achieve its many lofty goals in finally closed its doors in 1848. Most likely the failure of the Society resulted from its publications being too expensive for its intended lower to middle class markets and yet not large and fine enough to appeal to the aristocratic market. Nonetheless, it did manage to publish several extraordinary atlases of impressive detail and sophistication. Their most prominent atlas consisted of some 200 separately issued maps initially published by Baldwin and Cradock and sold by subscription from 1829 to 1844. Afterwards, the Society combined the maps into a single world atlas published under the Chapman and Hall imprint. In its day, this atlas was unprecedented in its quality, scope, and cost effectiveness. Today Society, or S.D.U.K. as it is commonly known, maps are among the most impressive examples of mid-19th century English mass market cartographic publishing available. The S.D.U.K. is especially known for its beautiful and accurately detailed city plans. Click here for a list of rare maps from The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge.

Cartographer:    Charles Knight (March 15, 1791 - March 9, 1873) was an English map publisher, author, and editor. Knight was born to a known publishing family. His father, a bookseller of Windsor took him as an apprentice. On fulfilling his indenture, Knight proceed to publish several small newspapers, including The Etonian and Knight's Quarterly Magazine. In 1828 Knight has contracted to become the superintendent of the newly formed Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, or S.K.U.K. for short. Knight's personal values matched those of the S.D.U.K., whose stated purpose was the democratization of knowledge. Most of Knight's cartographic publications were in association with the S.K.U.K., which financed a detailed and comprehensive world atlas. Despite Knights able management, the goals of the S.D.U.K. we're not fiscally supported by the sale of its publication and the organization folded in 1848. Knight however, continued his publishing career as well has his career as an author, producing such works as The Results of Machinery (1831) and Knowledge is Power (1855). He also composed his own autobiography, published in two volumes from 1864 to 1865, entitled Working Life during Half a Century. Knight died in Addlestone, Surrey, in 1873, at a respectable 81 years. Click here for a list of rare maps by Charles Knight

Size:   Printed area measures 16 x 13 inches (40.64 x 33.02 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 15500000

Condition:    Very good. Blank on verso.

Code:   Canada-sduk-1848 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)

Tags:    Canada , Treaty of Paris , Oregon Treaty , Hudson Bay Company , SDUK , Knight

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