1835 (undated) 17 x 21 in (43.18 x 53.34 cm)
1 : 6336000
This is a beautiful map of China from Sidney Hall's extremely scarce 1835 New General Atlas. It covers China from Chinese Tartary to the Kingdom of Tonquin (modern day Vietnam) and from Yunnan to Corea (Korea). Taiwan or Formosa (alternately labeled Taiouan) is mapped vaguely, representing the poor knowledge of the region prior to the Japanese invasion and subsequent survey work in 1895. Macao is identified. Hong Kong Island appears, but is not identified. The Great Wall of China is clearly rendered.
Halls map reveals China just prior to the First Opium War. In the early 19th century Asia was increasingly coming under imperial European sway. 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) would grant Britain extensive trading rights in China.
Sidney Hall's New General Atlas was published from 1830 to 1857, the first edition being the most common, with all subsequent editions appearing only rarely. Most of the maps included in the first edition of this atlas were drawn between 1827 and 1828 and are most likely steel plate engravings, making it among the first cartographic work to employ this technique. Each of the maps in this large and impressive atlas feature elegant engraving and an elaborate keyboard style border. Though this is hardly the first map to employ this type of border, it is possibly the earliest to use it on such a large scale. Both the choice to use steel plate engraving and the addition of the attractive keyboard boarder are evolutions of anti-forgery efforts. Copper plates, which were commonly used for printing bank notes in the early 19th century, proved largely unsuitable due to their overall fragility and the ease with which they could be duplicated. In 1819 the Bank of England introduced a £20,000 prize for anyone who could devise a means to print unforgeable notes. The American inventors Jacob Perkins and Asa Spencer responded to the call. Perkins discovered a process for economically softening and engraving steel plates while Spencer invented an engraving lathe capable of producing complex patters repetitively - such as this keyboard border. Though Perkins and Spenser did not win the prize, their steel plate engraving technique was quickly adopted by map publishers in England, who immediately recognized its value. Among early steel plate cartographic productions, this atlas, published in 1830 by Longman Rees, Orme, Brown & Green stands out as perhaps the finest. This map was issued by Sidney Hall and published by Longman Rees, Orme, Brown & Green of Paternoster Row, London, in the 1835 edition of the Sidney Hall New General Atlas.
Sidney Hall (1788 - 1831) was an English engraver and map publisher active in London during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. His earliest imprints, dating to about 1814, suggest a partnership with Michael Thomson, another prominent English map engraver. Hall engraved for most of the prominent London map publishers of his day, including Aaron Arrowsmith, William Faden, William Harwood, and John Thomson, among others. Hall is credited as being one of the earliest adopters of steel plate engraving, a technique that allowed for finer detail and larger print runs due to the exceptional hardness of the medium. Upon his early death - he was only in his 40s - Hall's business was inherited by his wife, Selina Hall, who continued to publish under the imprint, "S. Hall", presumably for continuity. The business eventually passed to Sidney and Selina's nephew Edward Weller, who became extremely prominent in his own right.
Hall, S., A New General Atlas, with the Divisions and Boundaries, 1835.
Very good. Original platemark visible. Minor wear along original centerfold. Some offsetting. Blank on verso.
Rumsey 4224.030 (1830 edition). Philips (Atlases) 758. Ristow, W., American Maps and Mapmakers: Commercial Cartography in the Nineteenth Century, p. 303-09.