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1827 Vandermaelen map of Bhutan, Assam and Southern Tibet

Assam et. Boutan. - Main View

1827 Vandermaelen map of Bhutan, Assam and Southern Tibet


First Lithograph Map of Bhutan, Assam and Tibet



Assam et. Boutan.
  1827 (undated)     18.5 x 20.5 in (46.99 x 52.07 cm)     1 : 1641836


This 1827 Vandermaelen map of Bhutan, Assam and Tibet is one of the earliest printed maps to show this region in detail, and the first to do so in lithograph. Vandermaelen's atlas was also remarkable in adhering to a uniform scale and projection for every map: In doing so, Vandermaelen committed himself to showing Bhutan in sharper focus than any map previously published - inadvertently revealing how little was actually known of the region at the time, beyond the string of cities and fortresses in the western part of the country. (The wealth of detail across the border in India is striking in comparison). Vandermaelen names it 'Boutan ou Pays de Deva Dharma Rajah,' referring to the Buddhist religious leadership of the time. Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan is shown. Both within Bhutan and across the border into Tibet, there can be found dzongs - Bhutanese fortresses built in the 17th century to defend against Tibetan invasion. The map also shows part of southern Tibet in similar detail. Lhasa (Lassa on the map) appears, with the 'Pagode du grand Lama,' shown to the east-north-east. Several fortresses are marked - Painom Jeung, Ihansu Jeung, and Anea Gomba, which is noted to be a convent. Yamdrok Lake (here named La Jamdro ou Palte) is shown as well: this is one of three sacred Tibetan lakes.
First Lithograph Map of Bhutan
Vandermaelen’s atlas was the first to be executed with lithography, and proved to be both well-produced and costly. As a result, the map presents elegantly, with paper free of toning, a sharp printed image, and bright original hand coloring. Mountains are shown in hachure, though the actual topography was not yet well understood.
Publication History and Census
Vandermaelen's atlas appears in 19 institutional collections; this map does not appear in any physical copies in OCLC. There was only one edition of Vandermaelen's 1827 work.


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. Learn More...


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.


Very good. Centerfold mended at top and bottom. A clean and bright examlple with original outline color.


Rumsey 2212.116. OCLC 56131961. Phillips, 749.