1815 Thomson Map of Ireland


1815 Thomson Map of Ireland


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  1815 (dated)    24 x 20 in (60.96 x 50.8 cm)     1 : 825000


This is an attractive example of John Thomson's 1816 map of Ireland. The whole is beautifully engraved in the minimalist English style pioneered in the London and Edinburgh during early part of the 19th century. It depicts the entire Emerald Isle, divided into 32 counties, covering from Donegal in the north to Cork in the south. Towns, rivers, mountains, railroads, and various other important topographical details are noted. Elevation throughout is rendered by hachure and political and territorial boundaries are outlined in color.

In 1801, the island of Ireland became part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Though Britain flourished during the 19th century, Ireland suffered a series of famines, the worst being the Great Irish Famine, which lasted from 1845 - 1849 and killed about a million people. As a result Ireland experienced a widespread exodus - mostly to the United States. By the end of the 19th century, almost 50% of immigrants into the United States hailed from Ireland.

This map is a steel plate engraving by Samuel John Neele and was prepared by John Thomson for inclusion in the 1815 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.

Samuel John Neele (July 29, 1758 - May 13, 1824) was a prolific British map engraver active in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Neele apprenticed as a printer and engraver with Harry Ashby from about 1781 to 1782 before establishing himself independently in 1785 at 352 Strand, London. The combination of business acumen and technical skill make Neele extremely successful with literally hundreds of maps to his credit. His vast corpus is composed of notable maps by most major English publishers of the period including, Haywood, Faden, Wallis, Stockdale, Arrowsmith, Thomson, and Greenwood, among others. Neele's sons, James and Josiah Neele, also engravers, took over their fathers business around 1818, both becoming notable in their own right.


Thomson, John. A New General Atlas, (London) 1817.    


Good. Minor toning on original centerfold. Platemark visible. Blank on verso.


Rumsey 1007.011. Phillips (Atlases) 731. Newberry Library: Ayer 135 T4 1817.