1840 Wyld map of India and Afghanistan

Map of India, Constructed with great care and research from all the latest authorities and intended more particularly to facilitate a reference to the Civil and Military Stations. - Main View

1840 Wyld map of India and Afghanistan


India and Afghanistan at the Dawn of 'The Great Game'


Map of India, Constructed with great care and research from all the latest authorities and intended more particularly to facilitate a reference to the Civil and Military Stations.
  1840 (dated)     37.5 x 26 in (95.25 x 66.04 cm)     1 : 4000000


Rare, very early edition of the definitive English map of India from the period the period of the East India Company's Control of the Indian Subcontinent, and the initial period of 'The Great Game.' The initial publication of the map pre-dates, by a year, the first Anglo-Afghan war, the theater of which is falls entirely within the scope of this map. Indeed, the production of the 1837 Wyld map was likely inspired by Lord Palmerston and John Hobhouse's warnings of a possible Russian invasion of British India through Afghanistan, threatening the EIC's interests in India. The onset of the Anglo-Afghan war in 1839 would have only sharpened public demand for so detailed a map as this. (The extravagant debacle of the destruction of Elphinstone's army in the Khyber mountains in January 1842 may well account for the relative ubiquity of that edition of this map.)
India Under the Honorable East India Company
The map's superb detail reflects the extent of British East India's control over the vast country, and the great difficulty posed in trying to comprehend the scope of that control. It was clearly intended as an administrative tool to that end, but also to be of utility to British travelers working with the EIC or civil service. The map's baffling and rich detail is made more legible by the imposition of a numbered coordinate grid, the numbers of which cross-reference to lists of military and civil stations in Madras and Bengal as well as 'Collectorates,' the main administrative regions employed by the EIC to levy taxes from their territories. Military administration is indicated on the map showing stations of the Bengal Army, Bombay Army and Madras Army, distinguished from one another with hand color. All three of these armies represented British military power, via the three 'Presidencies' of Bengal, Bombay and Madras. The armies themselves belonged to the East India Company, until the Government of India act of 1858. The map itself is superbly executed, largely thanks to the ongoing labor of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India, whose scientific standards were unprecedented at the time.
The Great Game - the struggle for Afghanistan
From 1830 until 1895, a political and diplomatic confrontation, known as 'The Great Game', existed between the British Empire and the Russian Empire over Afghanistan and other territories in Central and Southern Asia. 'The Great Game', as it is known, was ignited due to Russian fears that Britain was making commercial and military inroads in Central Asia, while Britain mutually feared Russia adding 'the jewel in the crown' (India) to its vast empire in Asia. Several wars were fought, including the First Anglo-Afghan War in 1838, the First Anglo-Sikh War in 1845, the Second Anglo-Sikh War in 1848, and the Second Anglo-Afghan War in 1878, along with the Russian annexations of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand. Per historians, the Great Game ended on September 10, 1895 with the signing of the Pamir Boundary Commission protocols, which defined the border between Afghanistan and the Russian Empire.
Publication History and Census
This map was first published in 1837, and stayed in publication for the rest of the century. This example, printed and dated 1840, is among the earliest available. OCLC shows only the 1837 issue predating the 1840; only two examples of this state appear, one at Harvard and the other at the University of Edinburgh. 1842 issues appear to be more common and appear on the market from time to time.


James Wyld I (1790 - 1836) and his son James Wyld II (November 20, 1812 - 1887) were the principles of English mapmaking dynasty active in London during much of the 19th century. The elder Wyld was a map publisher under William Faden and did considerable work on the Ordinance Survey. On Faden's retirement, Wyld took over Faden's workshop acquiring many of his plates. Wyld's work can often be distinguished from his son's maps through his imprint, which he signed as 'Successor to Faden'. Following in his father's footsteps the younger Wyld joined the Royal Geographical Society in 1830 at the tender age of 18. When his father died in 1836, James Wyld II was prepared to fully take over and expand his father's considerable cartographic enterprise. Like his father and Faden, Wyld II held the title of official Geographer to the Crown, in this case, Queen Victoria. In 1852 he moved operations from William Faden's old office at Charing Cross East (1837 - 1852) to a new larger space at 475 Strand. Wyld II also chose to remove Faden's name from all of his updated map plates. Wyld II continued to update and republish both his father's work and the work of William Faden well into the late 1880s. One of Wyld's most eccentric and notable achievements is his 1851 construction of a globe 19 meters (60 feet) in diameter in the heart of Leicester Square, London. In the 1840s Wyld also embarked upon a political career, being elected to parliament in 1847 and again in 1857. He died in 1887 following a prolific and distinguished career. After Wyld II's death, the family business was briefly taken over by James John Cooper Wyld (1844 - 1907), his son, who ran the firm from 1887 to 1893 before selling the business to Edward Stanford. All three Wylds are notable for producing, in addition to their atlas maps, short run maps expounding upon important historical events - illustrating history as it was happening - among them are maps related to the California Gold Rush, the New South Wales Gold Rush, the Scramble for Africa, the Oregon Question, and more. Learn More...


Very good condition. Dissected and mounted on linen for folding, as issued. Original slipcase present and in sound condition.


OCLC 673203526.