Arrowsmith’s original map of 1794 was one of the great cartographic achievements of his age. The map was designed to illustrate the important discoveries and navigations of Captain James Cook. All subsequent variants on Arrowsmith’s map follow his basic globular model and include both an illustration of the Great Navigator and markings showing the tracks of his three voyages of discovery. In 1808, when Lewis re-engraved Arrowsmith’s map for the American market, he included some updated information and a fully re-engraved cartouche work. Lewis changed the title from Map of the World on a Globular Projection to Arrowsmith’s Map of the World, no doubt hoping to capitalize on the Arrowsmith’s well-deserved reputation as a talented and meticulous cartographer. He also removed the dedication to Alexander Dalrymple, the British Hydrographer, in favor of various decorative elements. Cook’s portrait however remained, though relegated to the lower cartouche area.
Cartographically, the Lewis American edition of this map, published by T. L. Plowman of Philadelphia, is with only a few minor exceptions almost identical to the 1808 Arrowsmith English edition. Lewis offered his version of Arrowsmith’s map by subscription and, in so far as we can tell, it must not have been very popular as the map never reached a broad audience – thus accounting for its extreme rarity. Unlike the British edition, the American edition seems to have been issued only in wall map format as we have identified no dissected examples.
The present example, issued in 1838, reflects significant updates and additions throughout, though follows Arrowsmith’s basic globular model and Lewis’s alternations. The inscription, bottom center, suggests that the map features “corrections, additions, and improvements by an experienced geographer”, though who this might have been is unfathomable. These updates are most notable in the Americas.
This map was issued shortly following the 1836 Treaty of Velasco that ended the Texan Revolution and brought about the ephemeral independent Republic of Texas. Throughout the Republic period the western and northern borders of Texas were a matter of dispute, with Texas claiming ownership of much of modern day New Mexico, Oklahoma, Kansas, Wyoming, and Colorado, while Mexico insisted that the boundary be limited to the Neuces River – slightly east of today’s Rio Grande border. The cartographer’s choice of the Neuces River border suggests that his sympathies did not lie with the Republic of Texas. This dispute would eventually lead to the Mexican-American war and the cession of Upper California to the United States.
Further north the cartographer sets the United States – British America border at 54°40′ north latitude. This constitutes a strong stance in favor of American claims to the region. The Oregon Boundary Dispute, as it came to be known, evolved from conflicting commercial interests in the region – mainly associated with fur trade. The British claims assert that Oregon / Columbia was a holding of the Hudson Bay Company and argued for possession of all lands as far south as the Columbia River. Americans, influenced by the popular theme of manifest destiny, asserted claims to the region relating partially to residual treaties with Russia and Spain, but more significantly to the commercial interests of tycoons like John Jacob Astor, whose Astoria trading post is noted here simply as ‘Village’.
Additional modifications and adjustments are evident throughout and include updates to both the interior and southern border of Australia – here identified as New Holland. Africa features considerable updates that might better be called regressions. Following the theories of Mungo Parke, the apocryphal Mountains of Kong, which stretch laterally across the continent, here join with the hypothetical Mountains of the Moon – a sharp contrast to the more technically correct mapping provided by Lewis in 1809. In our edition Lake Malawi, however, though still retaining in an embryonic state, is vastly elongated and more suggestive of its true form. The remainder of the continent, following the original Arrowsmith model, remains ‘Unexplored’. South America reflects the effects of its many wars of liberation under Simon Bolivar and others. New Granada, Venezuela, and other early South American states are beginning to emerge from the fog of war.
All an all, this is an important, rare, and strange map. Though we know the influences behind it – Arrowsmith and Lewis – the 1838 publisher remains unknown. With no published references and no records appearing in the catalogues of any institutional or known private collections, this quite possible the only remaining example of this, the final iteration Arron Arrowsmith’s seminal globular map of the word.
Please also see Rumsey example: