1827 Vandermaelen map of Western Iran

Partie de la Perse. Asie no. 65 - Main View

1827 Vandermaelen map of Western Iran


The Best Early Large-Scale Atlas Map of Northwestern and Central Iran


Partie de la Perse. Asie no. 65
  1827 (undated)     18.5 x 19.25 in (46.99 x 48.895 cm)     1 : 1641836


This is the 1827 Vandermaelen map of northwestern Iran. At the bottom right can be seen the northern shore of the Persian Gulf, and the city of Bandar Mahshahr (Mashoor on the map). The Karun River (Karoun on the map) also appears. The city of Ahwaz is shown - noted here to be in ruins, because the city had been devstated in the 14th century during Mongol invasions: by the 19th century, barely a village remained amongst the ruins of its once-great sugarcane plantations. Indeed, the map is sufficiently well-informed that many recognizable place can be found. Shooshtar (Shuster on the map,) Khorramabad and other Iranian cities appear in the west. The map reaches as far north as the Alborz mountains, just north of Tehran, which is also shown. Isfahan is shown centrally, with the note of its population of 200,000. The map extends eastwar include much of the desert beyond Yezd. Somewhat confusingly to modern eyes, the western portion of the map is labeled 'Irak Adjemy,' enclosing both Tehran and Isfahan well to the east of what we now consider Iraq. In this case, it is not a contradiction: Irak Adjemy was a northwestern province of Persia at the time this map was produced.
First Map to Focus on the Region
Like many of Vandermaelen's maps, this is the first large-scale atlas map to focus on the area it depicts, and the first to be executed in lithography. The map's detail - drawn from the first-hand exploration of John Macdonald Kinneir on behalf of the British East India Company - would not be improved upon until the First Anglo-Afghan war. Kinneir's travels in Persia were brough on with the explicit intent of understanding what the British viewed as the borderland between British interests in India, and the encroachments of the Russian empire.
The Great Game
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
This map appeared in the second part, 'Asie,' of Vandermaelen's Atlas universel de géographie physique, politique, statistique et minéralogique. The atlas was produced in one edition in 1827; only 810 complete sets were sold. The full set of six volumes appears in eleven institutional collections in OCLC; the 2nd volume alone is listed in 12. This separate map does not appear physically in any listing in OCLC.


Philippe Marie Guillaume Vandermaelen (December 23, 1795 - May 29, 1869) was a Flemish cartographer active in Brussels during the first part of the 19th century. Vandermaelen is created with "one of the most remarkable developments of private enterprise in cartography," namely his remarkable six volume Atlas Universel de Geographie. Vandermaelen was born in Brussels in 1795 and trained as a globe maker. It was no doubt his training as a globe maker that led him see the need for an atlas rendered on a universal scale in order that all bodies could be understood in relation to one another. In addition to his great work Vandermaelen also produced a number of globes, lesser maps, a highly detailed 250 sheet map of Belgium, and several regional atlases. Learn More...

Sir John Macdonald Kinneir (February 3, 1782 - June 11, 1830) was a Scottish army officer of the East India Company, diplomat and traveller. In 1804 he was appointed ensign in the Madras infantry, and posted in 1807 as lieutenant. He was attached to Sir John Malcolm's mission in Persia between 1808–9, during which time he travelled widely. He produced a Gazeteer of Persia in 1813, which for many years remained the best source of geographical data for that part of the world. In 1824 he was appointed envoy to Fath-Ali Shah Qajar of Persia, for the East India Company, arriving in time for the Russo-Persian War (1826–28). Learn More...


Vandermaelen, P. Atlas universel de geographie physique, politique, statistique et mineralogique (Bruxelles, Vandermaelen) 1827.     Atlas Universel de Geographie. This great work, featuring some 378 unique maps and compiled over three years, was the first lithograph atlas, and the first to render the world on the same projection and at a uniform scale. It was no doubt Vandermaelen’s training a globe maker that led him see the need for an atlas rendered uniformly so that all bodies could be understood in relation to one another. As a result, many newly emerging areas received more attention than prior efforts. Maps of the American West, in particular, benefited: ‘no mapmaker had previously attempted to use such a large scale for any western American area.’ (Wheat). Central and South Asia also appear in sharper focus. Despite Vandermaelen’s reliance upon existing sources, his maps very frequently provided the clearest depictions available of many poorly-understood parts of the world. The atlas was an expensive production, costing $800 in 1827. Subscription lists indicate that only 810 full sets of the atlas were sold. It was printed on high-quality paper with superior hand coloring and was engraved in a clear, legible style. Conjoined, the maps of Vendermaelen's atlas would create a massive globe some 7.75 meters in diameter, a feat which was accomplished at the Etablissement Geographique de Brussels.


Very good condition. Some faint toning and freckling.


Rumsey 2212.097 No physical copies in OCLC.