This is a nice example of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge or S.D.U.K.’s 1840 first edition map of Asia. It covers the entire continent from the Arctic Ocean to the Indian Ocean and from the Mediterranean Sea to the North Pacific Ocean. Includes Turkey, Arabia, Persia, the Indian subcontinent, Russia, the Chinese Empire, Japan and parts of the East Indies.
In the early 19th century Asia was coming under increasingly imperial European sway. In India full British rule allowed England to attain naval and trade supremacy throughout the eastern Hemisphere. Using India as a springboard, the English traded wool and Indian cotton for Chinese tea and textiles. By the 1830s oversaturation of the Chinese market slackened Chinese demand for most British products. To make up for the trade deficit, British merchants introduced Indian opium to China. Addictive and cheap, Opium became Britain's most profitable and important crop in world markets, pouring into China faster than tea poured into Britain. Opium addiction and its attendant social ills reached such catastrophic levels that the Chinese government took action and destroyed British opium stores in Canton. As this threatened English commercial interests, the crown responded, sparking the Opium Wars of 1839-1842. The superior British forces took complete control of Canton, occupied Shanghai, and blockaded Chinese ports, forcing the Chinese to sign the 1842 Treaty of Nanking. This unequal treaty (the first of many between European powers and China) granted Britain extensive trading rights in China.
This map was part of A Series of Maps, Modern and Ancient, issued by subscription by the S.D.U.K. Each folder in the series would contain a set of two maps bound together. The map accompanying this folder, not included here, was of Australia. Original folder included the names of committee members of the ‘Society’, a list of maps already published, the folder number, which is this case was LXXXI, the contents and the printer and publication details. The folder at the time was priced at 1 shilling or 1 shilling 6 pence for maps colored. This map was engraved and printed by J. and C. Walker. Printed by William Clowes and Sons and published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in their Feb 17, 1840 subscriber’s edition folder.
The "Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge" (1826 - 1848) was a Whiggish organization founded in 1828 at the instigation of idealistic British lord Henry Peter Brougham. The admirable goal of the Society was to distribute useful information via a series of publications to the English working and middle classes. It promoted self-education and the egalitarian sharing of all knowledge. While closely tied to the London University and publishing houses on the order of Baldwin and Cradock, Chapman and Hall, and Charles Knight, the Society failed to achieve its many lofty goals in finally closed its doors in 1848. Most likely the failure of the Society resulted from its publications being too expensive for its intended lower to middle class markets and yet not large and fine enough to appeal to the aristocratic market. Nonetheless, it did manage to publish several extraordinary atlases of impressive detail and sophistication. Their most prominent atlas consisted of some 200 separately issued maps initially published by Baldwin and Cradock and sold by subscription from 1829 to 1844. Afterwards, the Society combined the maps into a single world atlas published under the Chapman and Hall imprint. In its day, this atlas was unprecedented in its quality, scope, and cost effectiveness. Today Society, or S.D.U.K. as it is commonly known, maps are among the most impressive examples of mid-19th century English mass market cartographic publishing available. The S.D.U.K. is especially known for its beautiful and accurately detailed city plans. Learn More...
John Walker, Alexander Walker and Charles Walker, known collectively as J & C Walker (fl. 1820-95), were engravers, draughtsmen and publishers working through the 19th century. They had several offices 47 Bernard St Russel Sq (from 1830 - 1836), 3 Burleigh St Strand (from 1837 to 1840), 9 Castle St Holborn (from 1841 to 1847) and 37 Castle St Holborn (from 1848 to 1875). The firm is best known for its work in conjunction with the maps issued by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge or, as it is more commonly known, the S.D.U.K. However, they also engraved a large corpus of work for the British Admiralty , as well as issuing several important maps of India and multiple issues of the Royal Atlas. Learn More...
A Series of Maps, Modern and Ancient, Feb 17, 1840.
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (S.D.U.K.) Atlas was initially issued in parts over several years by Baldwin and Craddock to promote the society's mission of egalitarian self-education. The first S.D.U.K. began appearing in 1829 when the society contracted John Walker to produce the first proofs. The first S.D.U.K maps were produced serially by Baldwin and Craddock and issued in 2 map batches, priced at 2 shillings each. The series, originally anticipated to feature 50 maps, ultimately contained 200 and took over 14 years to produce. The initial production was completed in 1844 when the whole was issued in its first compiled atlas edition. Around 1842, following the 1837 bankruptcy of Baldwin and Craddock, publication of the atlas was taken over by the Society itself, who issued editions in 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, and 1842. Overburdened by the work of publishing, they then outsourced the publication to Chapman and Hall in 1842. Chapman and Hall produced editions in 1842, 1843, and 1844. Dissatisfied with the quality of Chapman and Hall printing, the Society turned to another publisher, Charles Knight, who issued editions under the auspices of the Society in 1844, 1845, and 1846. In 1846 Knight officially acquired the plates in his own right and reissued in revised editions until 1852, when he sold them to George Cox. Cox in turn sold them to Edward Stanford who published them from 1856 well into the 1860s. The S.D.U.K. Atlas is known for the quantity and quality of its maps. The S.D.U.K. published many maps of areas largely ignored by other publishers. The many city plans incorporated into the atlas are particularly admired and are the highlight of the S.D.U.K.'s long map publishing history. As a whole the S.D.U.K. Atlas was groundbreaking in terms of quality, scope, and being offer at a cost effective price point.
Very good. Mior spotting. Minor crease near top right quadrant.
Rumsey 0890.079 (atlas edition).