1827 Vandermaelen/ Humboldt Map of Northern Mexico

Parties du Mexique. Amer. Sep. no. 59. - Main View

1827 Vandermaelen/ Humboldt Map of Northern Mexico


The Best Large-Scale Map of Northern Mexico Based on First-Hand Survey.


Parties du Mexique. Amer. Sep. no. 59.
  1827 (undated)     18.25 x 20 in (46.355 x 50.8 cm)     1 : 1641836


This is the 1827 Vandermaelen map of the northern gold and silver mining region of Mexico, showing the states immediately south of the Rio Grande: Monterrey, parts of Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo Leon, Zacatecas, Durango, and Sinaloa. Vandermaelen drew on the incomparable firsthand surveys of Alexander von Humboldt, whose 1803-4 travels informed his definitive 1804 map of Mexico. Vandermaelen's map, by addressing the geographical data at significantly higher scale than the Humboldt map, provides the best large-format mapping of the region - presented with the remarkable clarity afforded by the new printing technology of lithography. The map faithfully retains Humboldt's own array of symbols to distinguish cities and towns, mines, haciendas, ranches and presidios. No other map of the period provides this level of detail and focus on this region.
Publication History
This map appeared in the fourth part, 'Quatrième partie, Amér. sept.' 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 4th volume alone is listed in 9. This map is listed as a separate only in the Clements Library, New Mexico State University, the University of Texas at Arlington, and Texas Tech.


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 detail 250 sheet map of Belgium, and several regional atlases.

Alexander von Humboldt (September 14, 1769 - May 6, 1859), whose full birth name is Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German born naturalist, biologist, geologist, explorer and cartographer active in the late 18th and first half of the 19th century. The importance and scope of Humboldt's work is staggering and its influence on both the development of America and the development of science itself is second to none. As Emil Du Bois-Reymond said, "Every scientist is a descendant of Humboldt. We are all his family." To compose a full biography of Humboldt is the work of volumes, not this simple medium, so we will attempt to focus on the highlights of Humboldt's life as it pertains to cartography. Humboldt was the first scientist to embrace and actually take into the field the Kantian concept of a union between careful scientific observation and intuitive analysis. Between 1799 and 1804 Humboldt traveled through northwestern South America, Central America, Mexico, and parts of the United States. During this voyage he collected a wealth scientific observations and measurements, including considerable surveying and cartographic work, in each of the regions through which he passed. Humboldt's mapping of Mexico, then inclusive of much of the southwestern part of the United States, was an accomplishment of seminal importance, not only because it was the finest map of the region yet produced, but also because of its impact on the future political geography of the Americas. Upon his arrival in Washington, Humboldt struck up a friendship with president Thomas Jefferson, soon to be president James Madison, and other luminaries of post Colonial America. He freely shared his mappings of Mexico with the U.S. President, little suspecting that they would soon influence the results of the Mexican American War and the manifest destiny movement that would follow. When he returned to Germany, Humboldt began a life-long correspondence with scientific luminaries and explorers throughout the world and most particularly in America. Humboldt's influence can be directly tagged to the development of numerous important careers in American cartography, including those of Nicolette, Fremont, Wilkes, Hassler, Bache, and others. Though Humboldt never again visited America, his name is etched across our landscape through numerous Mountains, Rivers, Islands, and other geological features that bear his name. Had the votes in Congress swayed slightly to the other direction, even the entire state of Nevada would have been the state of Humboldt. Throughout his life, Humboldt was a tireless supporter of human equality, scientific advancement, and personal liberty. Humboldt died in Berlin at 89 years old, in his long life he was an inspiration to the invention of modern anthropology, the political destiny of South America, the geographical exploration of the American West, and, ultimately, the development of modern science.


Vandeermaelen, 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.


Excellent condition. Faint offsetting, else a bright example. Original outline hand color.


Rumsey 2212.000. OCLC 889736320.