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1794 Jeffreys Wall Map of India and Ceylon


The East Indies, with the Roads.
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Title:    The East Indies, with the Roads.

Description:    This is a staggering wall size map of India and Ceylon originally issued in 1768 by Thomas Jeffreys. Covers the Indian subcontinent from Mekran in the west to Assam and Aracan in the east, and from Bhutan in the north, south to Ceylon and the Maldives. Offers extraordinary detail throughout, with numerous notations on matters geographical, historical, and cultural. Shows roads, caravan routes, oases, temples, cities, treaty lines, archeological sites, mountain ranges, lakes, swamps and rivers. This map offers a smorgasbord of information for the historian interested political changes in India during the 18th century. Identifies Delhi (or Shah Jehan Abad), Agra, Bombay, Goa, Calcutta, Pondicherry, and countless other major and minor cities.

Our map predates the definitive Alexander Dalrymple mapping of India in the 1770s and so is quite vague in a number of areas - especially those controlled the independent Maratha Confederacy southwest of Bihar. In this area there are several speculative rivers as well as large lake, labeled Chilea or Ganga. This is most likely an erroneous mapping of Chilka Lake (Chilika Lake). Chilka Lake is the second largest salt water lagoon in the world - but was clearly missed by early mapmakers working on the Orissa coast.

Far to the north, just outside the border of the map, a note reads, "A cow cut in the rock". This is supposed to refer to the source of the Ganga or Ganges River. In Hindi this site is called Gomukh, which translates literally as, "The Cow's Mouth". The site itself is a cave that does in fact somewhat resemble the mouth a cow - but in this case something seems to have been lost in translation.

In Assam, Jefferys maps the "supposed" locations of the apocryphal Lake of Chiamay. Early cartographers speculated that such a lake must exist as the source of four important Southeast Asian river systems including the Irrawaddy, the Dharla, the Chao Phraya, and the Brahmaputra. This lake began to appear in maps of this region as early as the 16th century and persisted well into the late 18th century. Its origins are unknown but may originate in a lost 16th century geography prepared by the Portuguese scholar Jao de Barros. It was also heavily discussed in the journals of Sven Hedin, who believed it to be associated with Indian mythology that a sacred lake linked several holy river systems. There are even records that the King of Siam led an invasionary force to take control of the lake in the 16th century. Nonetheless, the theory of Lake Chimmay was ultimately disproved and it disappeared from maps entirely by the 1780s.

On the far east of the map, Jefferys identifies the Kingdom of Arakan, which flourished in the 16th and 17th centuries. The city of Mrauk-U, marked here as Arakan, was once described by Portuguese merchants as one of the most beautiful locations on earth, is today a spectacular but derelict ruin.

All in all a spectacular map with much to offer and a welcome addition to any serious collection focusing on the subcontinent. This map was prepared by Jefferys and originally published by Sayer and Bennet. This is the second edition, and was published by Laurie and Whittle in Kitchin's 1794 General Atlas.


Date:    1794 (dated)

Source:    Kitchin, Thomas, Kitchin's General Atlas, describing the Whole Universe: being a complete collection of the most approved maps extant; corrected with the greatest care, and augmented from the last edition of D'Anville and Robert with many improvements by other eminent geographers, engraved on Sixty-Two plates, comprising Thirty Seven maps., Laurie & Whittle, London, 1794.    

References:    Rumsey 0411.033, 0411.031, 0411.032. Sotheby's: Printed Books and Maps - 27 November 1997; Sale LN7638. Bancroft Library G5200 1794.A5. Shirley, R., Maps in the atlases of the British Library, T.LAU-1c (1799 ed.). National Maritime Museum, 375 (3rd ed. 1801).

Cartographer:    Thomas Jefferys (1695 - 1771) was one of the most prominent and prolific map publishers and engravers of his day. Our first records of Jefferys appear in the 1735 when he was apprenticed to Emmual Bowen. Later, in the 1740s he engraved several maps for the popular periodical The Gentlemans' Magazine. Around 1740 Jefferys was finally able to go into business for himself and in 1746 received an appointment as "Geographer to Fredrick, Prince of Wales", which shortly after translated to the position of "Royal Cartographer to King George III". While not specifically a cartographer, Jefferys specialized in compiling and re-engraving the works of earlier cartographers into coherent cartographic wholes. While not salaried position, Jefferys appointment as "Royal Cartographer" allowed him preferential access to the most up to date cartographic material available. He his best known for his maps of the America, particularly The American Atlas, which included some of the finest and most important late colonial ear maps of America ever published. Despite his prolific publishing history, royal appointments, and international publishing fame, Jefferys lived most of his life in dire economic straits. It is recorded that he had to be bailed out of bankruptcy by the Sayer firm during the publication of The American Atlas. In the end Jefferys died with very little. Nonetheless, his cartographic legacy survived him, even after his death in 1771, many of his important maps continued to be published and republished by Sayer and Bennet, Lotter, La Rouge, and others. Many attribute some of Jefferys best maps to the colorful and criminally inclined cartographic genius Braddock Mead, who is considered the "secret behind Jefferys". Jefferys was succeeded by his son, also Thomas, who had little success as a cartographer and eventually sold his stock to William Faden. Click here for a list of rare maps from Thomas Jefferys.

Cartographer:    Laurie and Whittle (fl. 1794 - 1858) were London, England, based map and atlas publishers active in the late 18th and early 19th century. Generally considered to be the successors to the Robert Sayer firm, Laurie and Whittle was founded by Robert Laurie (c. 1755 - 1836) and James Whittle (1757-1818). Robert Laurie was a skilled mezzotint engraver and is known to have worked with Robert Sayer on numerous projects. James Whittle was a well-known London socialite and print seller whose Fleet Street shop was a popular haunt for intellectual luminaries. The partnership began taking over the general management of Sayer's firm around 1787; however, they did not alter the Sayer imprint until after Sayer's death in 1794. Apparently Laurie did most of the work in managing the firm and hence his name appeared first in the "Laurie and Whittle" imprint. Together Laurie and Whittle published numerous maps and atlases, often bringing in other important cartographers of the day, including Kitchin, Faden, Jefferys and others to update and modify their existing Sayer plates. Robert Laurie retired in 1812, leaving the day to day management of the firm to his son, Richard Holmes Laurie (1777 - 1858). Under R. H. Laurie and James Whittle, the firm renamed itself "Whittle and Laurie". Whittle himself died in six years later in 1818, and thereafter the firm continued under the imprint of "R. H. Laurie". After R. H. Laurie's death the publishing house and its printing stock came under control of Alexander George Findlay, who had long been associated with Laurie and Whittle. Since, Laurie and Whittle has passed through numerous permeations, with part of the firm still extant as an English publisher of maritime or nautical charts, 'Imray, Laurie, Norie and Wilson Ltd.' The firm remains the oldest surviving chart publisher in Europe. Click here for a list of rare maps from Laurie & Whittle.

Cartographer:    Thomas Kitchin (1718 - 1784) was a London based cartographic engraver and publisher. Kitchin was a very active engraver who produced a large corpus of work both in and out of the cartographic arena. He is responsible for numerous maps published in the London Magazine, and is known to have partnered, at various times, with Thomas Jefferys, Emmanuel Bowen and Laurie and Whittle. Many of Kitchin's maps continued to be updated and published well after his death in 1784. Click here for a list of rare maps by Thomas Kitchin.

Size:   Printed area measures 54 x 43 inches (137.16 x 109.22 centimeters)

Condition:    Very good condition. Four sheets joined. Professionally flattened.

Code:   India-jeffreys-1794 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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