1755 Postlethwayte Three Panel Wall Map of South America
Description: A curious and uncommon three panel 1755 wall map of South America by the english publisher M. Postlethwayte. A derivative of D'Anville's earlier map, Postlethwayte's map covers the entire continent from the Lesser Antilles and Panama to Cape Horn. Published in three separate panels, this map can be either joined as a single massive map as assembled, as above, in separate sections. D'Anville's map, and by extension this revision of that map by Bolton and Postlethwayte, represents a serious attempt to compile all of the accurate scientific knowledge of the South American continent available at the time. While cartographically very similar to D'Anville's map, Postlethwayte's work is a full re-engraving in which all text has been translated to english, a new cartouche of a rococo ethic incorporated, and Postlethwayte's own fascinating Anglo-centric commentary added. This primary cartographic development on this, the Postlethwayte variant of D'Anville's map is the incorporation of data associated with the expedition of Charles Marie de La Condamine - which being published in 1748 Postlethawyte postulates was not available to D'Anville.
Our survey of this map beings with the coast which Spanish and Portuguese navigators had mapped with considerable accuracy as early as the late 16th century. This, like most early maps of the area, contrasts a detailed mapping of the coast with a speculative discussion of the interior, particularly Patagonia and the Amazon Basin. The map offers a fairly accurate discussion of both the east and west coasts with exceptional detail in the populated Andean regions of Venezuela, Columbia, ecuador (Labeled Quito), and Peru. Cuzco, Lima, Quito, Valladolid, Arequipa, Trujillo and other important trading centers of the region are noted. In Portuguese controlled Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, San Salvador and San Sebastian are identified.
Much of South America's interior, particularly the inland river basins, dominated by the Paraguay River in the south, the Amazon River in the center, and the Orinoco in the north, were largely unexplored. Nonetheless, several corrections and updates appear. D'Anville (also Bolton and Postlethwayte) have done away with the myth of Lake Parima (supposedly in southern Guyana), the site of the legendary city of Manoa or el Dorado, and instead correctly identify the vast flood plain located in this same region. The cities and tribes identified along the Amazon river mostly date to the journals of the harrowing 16th century Francisco Orellana voyage - a clear indication of how little information actually emerged from the Amazon Basin.
Further south, the cartographers have retained the mythical Laguna de Xarayes as the northern terminus of the Paraguay River. The Xarayes, a corruption of 'Xaraies' meaning 'Masters of the River', were an indigenous people occupying what are today parts of Brazil's Matte Grosso and the Pantanal. When Spanish and Portuguese explorers first navigated up the Paraguay River, as always in search of el Dorado, they encountered the vast Pantanal flood plain at the height of its annual inundation. Understandably misinterpreting the flood plain as a gigantic inland sea, they named it after the local inhabitants, the Xaraies. The Laguna de los Xarayes almost immediately began to appear on early maps of the region and, at the same time, almost immediately took on a legendary aspect. Later missionaries and chroniclers, particularly Díaz de Guzmán, imagined an island in this lake and curiously identified it as an 'Island of Paradise,'
...an island [of the Paraguay River] more than ten leagues [56 km] long, two or three [11-16 km] wide. A very mild land rich in a thousand types of wild fruit, among them grapes, pears and olives: the Indians created plantations throughout, and throughout the year sow and reap with no difference in winter or summer, ... the Indians of that island are of good will and are friends to the Spaniards; Orejón they call them, and they have their ears pierced with wheels of wood ... which occupy the entire hole. They live in round houses, not as a village, but each apart though keep up with each other in much peace and friendship. They called of old this island Land of Paradise for its abundance and wonderful qualities.D'Anville, to his credit, shows the 'Laguna' and its island in a much reduced form compared to earlier cartographers acknowledges that its existence is dubious. Our map, clearly referring to the work of Díaz de Guzmán, identifies the island as the 'I. de Orejones'.
Far to the south Patagonia is crisscrossed with a number of speculative rivers based upon assumptions from earlier cartographers. Postlethwayte includes annotations referencing the failure to discover one such pass between Julian Bay (Chile) and the Campana River. earlier in the century speculation on such a pass fueled the famous South Sea Company, one of the modern world's first stock bubbles, but when no such pass was discovered, the bubble burst. Another element that bears attention in this region is a curious note about an island on the Sauces River (Rio Negro, Argentina) that is supposedly inhabited by white people - possibly the survivors of a shipwreck?
Postethwayte's 1755 version utilized Samuel Bolton to revise, translate, and had amendments to the map, however, it is little different in most aspects from the D'Anville map. The present example is on three panels which can joined as a single map. This map was drawn by S. Bolton, based on D'Anville, and engraved by ThomasKitchen for publication in Postlethwayte's 1755 edition of the Dictionary of Commerce.
Date: 1755 (dated)
Source: Postlethwayte, M., Mr. Postlethwayt's Universal Dictionary of Commerce, Vol. II, (London), 1755.
Cartographer: Malachy Postlethwayt (c. 1707 - 1767) was a British economist and commercial expert famous for his publication of the commercial dictionary titled The Universal Dictionary of Trade and Commerce in 1751. The dictionary was a translation and adaptation of the Dictionnaire économique of the French Inspector General of the Manufactures for the King, Jacques Savary des Brûlons. Malachy claims to have spent nearly 20 years adapting and researching his important dictionary, which attained a popular following. The second edition of the Dictionary issued in 1752, was updated with a series of fine maps based upon D'Anville's work, but updated by Postlethwayt to reflect his political and social views. Politically Postlethwayt was extremely conservative and highly patriotic though his views more often than not took the form of rants against the social and political enemies of the British Empire. In the mid-1740s Postlethwayt lobbied for the Royal Africa Company and was known for his pro-slavery advocacy. His belief that the slave trade had a place in the larger "political arithmetic" of empire, promoted through his many popular books and other publications, in time became the party line for the ruling class. Despite his misguided feelings about the Africa slave trade, Postlethwayt was an influential and thoughtful economist whose ideas influenced Adam Smith, Samuel von Pufendorf, Alexander Hamilton, and others. Postlethwayt also commonly spelled his name as Postlethawyte and Postlethwait. Click here for a list of rare maps by Malachy Postlethwayt.
Cartographer: Samuel Boulton (fl. 1775 - 1800) was a historian and cartographer active in the late 18th century. In general Boulton is an extremely elusive figure of which little is known. He often signed is name as Bolton. His most important work is his magnificent map of Africa published in conjunction with Robert Sayer and, later, Laurie and Whittle. Click here for a list of rare maps by Samuel Boulton.
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 30.5 x 50.5 inches (77.47 x 128.27 centimeters)
Condition: Very good. Original fold lines visible. Blank on verso. Paper exhibits slight warping. Size given represnted three maps, if joined. Individual panels measure 16.5 x 30 inches 18.5 x 30 inches inches, and 15.5 x 30 inches.
Code: SouthAmerica-kitchin-1755 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)