1818 Pinkerton Map of Arabia and the Persian Gulf


1818 Pinkerton Map of Arabia and the Persian Gulf


An important 19th century map of Arabia.

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  1818 (undated)    21 x 28 in (53.34 x 71.12 cm)


Extraordinary large format map of Arabia published in 1818 by cartographer John Pinkerton. Centered on the desert province of Neged, this map details the entire Arabian peninsula as well as the Red Sea, the Persian Gulf, and adjacent parts of Africa and Persia. Covers the modern day countries of Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. Pinkerton offers extraordinary detail throughout noting both physical and political details. When this map was made the interior of Arabia was little known in European circles. Most of the cartographic material used to compose this map comes from older sources and from the ill fated expedition of the Danish explorer Carsten Neibuhr. Neibuhr was the sole survivor of one of the few European expeditions to this region in the 18th century. His work had a profound influence on the cartography of this region for some 200 years. This is undoubtedly one the most attractive and influential maps of the Arabian peninsula to appear in the 19th century. Drawn by L. Herbert and engraved by Samuel Neele under the direction of John Pinkerton. The map comes from the scarce American edition of Pinkerton's Modern Atlas, published by Thomas Dobson & Co. of Philadelphia in 1818.


John Pinkerton (1758-1826) was one of the leading masters of the Edinburgh school of cartography which flourished from roughly 1800 to 1830. Pinkerton & his contemporaries (Thomson & Cary) redefined European cartography by abandoning typical 18th century decorative elements such as elaborate title cartouches and fantastical beasts in favor of detail and accuracy. Pinkerton's principle work is the "Pinkerton's Modern Atlas" published from 1808 through 1815 with a special American reissue by Dobson & Co. in 1818. Today Pinkerton maps are becoming increasingly rare as they are highly admired for their unsurpassed quality, monumental size, vivid hand coloration, and flawless detail.

Thomas Dobson was an American publisher active in Philadelphia during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Dobson was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1751 and emigrated to Philadelphia c. 1780. In Philadelphia, he established a successful printing business by republishing edited and updated versions of important British reference materials in matching quality but at a much lower price point. He is best known for publishing the first American edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica. He also published America's first Hebrew Bible. Cartographically Dobson's most notable work is 1818 republication of Pinkerton's fantastic Modern Atlas.


Pinkerton, J., A Modern Atlas, from the Lates and Best Authorities, Exhibiting the Various Divisions of the World with its chief Empires, Kingdoms, and States; in Sixty Maps, carefully reduced from the Larges and Most Authentic Sources. 1818, Philadelphia, Thomas Dobson Edition.    


Good condition. Minor water damage along bottom of map - see photo. Original centerfold. Blank on verso.


Rumsey 0732.038. Phillips (Atlases) 724. National Maritime Museum, 409.