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1831 Lapie Map of Africa

Carte d'Afrique. - Main View

1831 Lapie Map of Africa



Carte d'Afrique.
  1831 (dated)     16.5 x 22 in (41.91 x 55.88 cm)


A fine first edition example of M. Lapie's 1831 map of Africa. Medieval maps had long depicted kingdoms throughout Africa, often represented as icons accompanied by textual descriptions that accompanied the maps. When european enlightenment cartographers and administrators insisted on more scientifically measured maps, these kingdoms were swept off the map. Home to numerous kingdoms and rapidly forming nation-states, Africa suddenly became a terra incognita on many maps, populated if at all with savages ripe for enslaving, and natural resources ripe for the plucking. european private interest in Africa grew, and the involvement of their governments increased. As european citizens and administrators penetrated further inland, they encountered resistance from dominant peoples, but also welcome from subordinated peoples seeking protectors or ambitious rulers seeking allies.

At the time this map was made, the slave trade, thriving since the 5th century Arab slave trade and reaching its height in the 1700s, was rapidly decreasing due to dropping demand for slaves in the New World, and due to the British outlawing of slavery in 1808 and subsequent diplomatic efforts, signing treaties with over 50 African rulers outlawing the practice, as well as a de facto naval blockade. Many African economies adapted by shifting to the export of mineral and agricultural resources, which led to the european scramble for territory, occupying most of the continent by the end of the 1800s, and haphazardly carving up the continent into territories that often forced historic enemies into close proximity, still a major cause of conflict today.

The map covers the entire African Continent from the Mediterranean Sea to Cape Colony and from the Atlantic Ocean to Madagascar and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean. It also shows parts of Spain, Turkey, Asia and Arabia.

This map was engraved by Armand Joseph Lallemand as plate no. 39 in the first edition of M. Lapie's important Atlas Universel. This map, like all maps from the Atlas Universel features an embossed stamp from the Lapie firm.


Pierre M. Lapie (fl. 1779 - 1850) and his son Alexandre Emile Lapie (fl. 1809 - 1850) were French cartographers and engravers active in the early part of the 19th century. The Lapies were commissioned officers in the French army holding the ranks of Colonel and Capitan, respectively. Alexander enjoyed the title of "First Geographer to the King", and this title appears on several of his atlases. Both father and son were exceptional engravers and fastidious cartographers. Working separately and jointly they published four important atlases, an 1811 Atlas of the French Empire (Alexander), the 1812 Atlas Classique et Universel (Pierre), the Atlas Universel de Geographie Ancienne et Modern (joint issue), and the 1848 Atlas Militaire (Alexander). They also issued many smaller maps and independent issues. All of these are products of exceptional beauty and detail. Despite producing many beautiful maps and atlases, the work of the Lapie family remains largely underappreciated by most modern collectors and map historians. The later 19th century cartographer A. H. Dufour claimed to be a student of Lapie, though it is unclear if he was referring to the father or the son. The work of the Lapie firm, with its precise engraving and informational density, strongly influenced the mid-19th century German commercial map publishers whose maps would eventually dominate the continental market. More by this mapmaker...

Armand Joseph Lallemand (c. 1810 - 1871) was an engraver and map publisher based in Paris during the mid-19th century. Most of Lallemand's work focused on landscapes and building vies, though he did take part in a few cartographic ventures, including the production of an atlas with Alexandre Emile Lapie and several tourist pocket maps of Paris. Learn More...


Lapie, M., Atlas Universel de Geographie. Ancienne et Moderne, precede d'un Abrege de Geographic Physique et Historique…, 1829. (Rumsey identifies this as the first edition of Lapie's Atlas Universel. In all known examples, the title page is dated 1829 while the maps are dated variously to 1833 - suggesting that the first issue of this atlas was 1833, not 1829.)    


Very good. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso. Original centerfold.


Rumsey 2174.039. Phillips (Atlases) 754, 765.