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1835 Hall Map of West Indies


West Indies.
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Title:    West Indies.

Description:    This is a beautiful map of the West Indies from Sidney Hall's extremely scarce 1835 New General Atlas. Centered on the island of Hispaniola (Santo Domingo), it covers the Caribbean from southern Florida, south as far as the Gulf of Panama and the Spanish Main, and east to Barbados and the Lesser Antilles. The Bahamas (Bahama Islands), parts of Honduras, the Panama Bay, Guatemala and Nicaragua are also included. The map identifies the Island of Guanhani or Cat Island, in the Bahamas where 'Colon or Columbus first landed 12 Oct, 1492'. This map also marks the famous battle between Admiral John Benbow and the French buccaneer Jean du Casse during the Action of 1702, where Benbow's captains refused to support his actions allowing du Casse to escape. Benbow later imprisoned the mutinous captains. His actions contributed to his notoriety and several references in popular culture followed. Most famous among them can be found in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Hall also identifies the site off the southern shore of Santo Domingo where Sir John Duckworth defeated the remainder of the French fleet following the Battle of Trafalgar in 1806.

Sidney Hall's New General Atlas was published from 1830 to 1857, the first edition being the most common, with all subsequent editions appearing only rarely. Most of the maps included in the first edition of this atlas were drawn between 1827 and 1828 and are most likely steel plate engravings, making it among the first cartographic work to employ this technique. Each of the maps in this large and impressive atlas feature elegant engraving and an elaborate keyboard style border. Though this is hardly the first map to employ this type of border, it is possibly the earliest to use it on such a large scale. Both the choice to use steel plate engraving and the addition of the attractive keyboard boarder are evolutions of anti-forgery efforts. Copper plates, which were commonly used for printing bank notes in the early 19th century, proved largely unsuitable due to their overall fragility and the ease with which they could be duplicated. In 1819 the Bank of England introduced a 20,000 prize for anyone who could devise a means to print unforgeable notes. The American inventors Jacob Perkins and Asa Spencer responded to the call. Perkins discovered a process for economically softening and engraving steel plates while Spencer invented an engraving lathe capable of producing complex patters repetitively - such as this keyboard border. Though Perkins and Spenser did not win the prize, their steel plate engraving technique was quickly adopted by map publishers in England, who immediately recognized its value. Among early steel plate cartographic productions, this atlas, published in 1830 by Longman Rees, Orme, Brown & Green stands out as perhaps the finest. This map was issued by Sidney Hall and published by Longman Rees, Orme, Brown & Green of Paternoster Row, London, in the 1835 edition of the Sidney Hall New General Atlas.


Date:    1835 (undated)

Source:    Hall, S., A New General Atlas, with the Divisions and Boundaries, 1835.

References:    Rumsey 4224.048 (1830 edition). Philips (Atlases) 758.

Cartographer:    Sidney Hall (1788 - 1831) was an English engraver and map publisher active in London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His earliest imprints, dating to about 1814, suggest a partnership with Michael Thomson, another prominent English map engraver. Hall engraved for most of the prominent London map publishers of his day, including Aaron Arrowsmith, William Faden, William Harwood, and John Thomson, among others. Hall is credited as being one of the earliest adopters of steel plate engraving, a technique that allowed for finer detail and larger print runs due to the exceptional hardness of the medium. Upon his early death - he was only in his 40s - Hall's business was inherited by his wife, Selina Hall, who continued to publish under the imprint, "S. Hall", presumably for continuity. The business eventually passed to Sidney and Selina's nephew Edward Weller, who became extremely prominent in his own right. Click here for a list of rare maps by Sidney Hall.

Size:   Printed area measures 21 x 17 inches (53.34 x 43.18 centimeters)

Scale:    1 : 5848000

Condition:    Very good. Original platemark visible. Minor wear and verso repair near original centerfold. Minor offsetting.

Code:   WestIndies-hall-1835 (to order by phone call: 646-320-8650)


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