1841 Wyld Map of China (First Opium War)

Map of China Compiled from original Surveys and Sketches. - Main View

1841 Wyld Map of China (First Opium War)


News of the First Opium War.


Map of China Compiled from original Surveys and Sketches.
  1841 (dated)     25.5 x 32 in (64.77 x 81.28 cm)     1 : 15000000


A beautiful example of the scarce 1840 first edition of James Wyld's First Opium War Era map of China, with Hong Kong identified here as 'Heong Kong'. The map covers all of China, extending from the Tibet border to western Japan and from Manchuria to Hainan. Korea, rendered in full, is wildly malformed. Taiwan, appearing near the cartouche, is misshaped and only the western coast features any detail. There are notes in industry, transportation networks, the great wall, population, trade resources, and more.
The First Opium War
The First Opium War, or the Anglo-Chinese War, (1839 - 1842) was a series of engagements fought between the United Kingdom and Qing China over trade and diplomatic relations. By the middle of the 19th century an enormous trade imbalance had developed between Europe and China due to high demand for Chinese goods (silk, porcelain, tea) in Europe and low demand for European goods (English wool anyone?) in China. To balance the trade, the British East India Company introduced Indian-grown opium to the Chinese market. The opium trade led to waves of addiction throughout China and reversed the trade imbalance within a couple of years.

In 1839, the Daoguang Emperor, seeking to stem the tide of narcotic addiction in China, banned opium entirely and blockaded China's only open trade port – Canton (modern day Guangzhou). They also seized and destroyed nearly 20,000 chests, roughly 1200 tons, of opium. Foreign traders within Canton were confined to their offices without access to outside food or supplies – essentially forcing them into a 'capitulate or starve' situation.

The British subsequently dispatched a naval and military force to China. The Royal Navy used its cannon power to inflict a series of decisive defeats on the Qing at various Chines ports, forcing them to the negotiating table - a tactic later referred to as 'gunboat diplomacy.' By 1842, when this map was drawn, the Qing were forced to sign the Treaty of Nanking, the first of the Unequal Treaties. The Treaty of Nanking created five open treaty ports and ceded Hong Kong to the British Empire. The Opium trade quickly resumed, but escalating tensions led to the Second Opium War (1856 - 1860) just 14 years later.
War and Trade
The First Opium War as essentially about trade, and so is this map. Throughout, Wyld offers a wealth of detail regarding trading and resources throughout China. He identifies black tea regions, green tea regions, cotton fields (near Shanghai), china ware manufactories, silkworm lands, varnish trees, rice grounds, limestone, blue nankeen manufactories, and a place where 'silken fowls are bread.'
Wyld's News Maps
Wyld was masterful at capturing political events throughout the world as they occurred and leveraging his impressive publishing operation to quickly produce and distribute pertinent maps to the invested public. The speed with which Wyld was able to assess news events and produce an informative fully engraved map contributed significantly to his commercial success. Wyld's news maps, while a small subset of his large cartographic corpus, arguably represent his most significant work - forming a vital record of currently developing events from an even-handed if Anglo-centric perspective. Such maps had an ephemeral period of interest, were separately issued, and necessarily printed in small quantities, leading to their extreme scarcity today.
Publication History and Census
James Wyld first published this map in 1840 to capitalize on British public interest in the First Opium War (1839 - 1842). Subsequent editions were issued in 1841, 1842, 1843, and 1844. Early editions are especially rare on the market.


James Wyld I (1790 - 1836) and his son James Wyld II (November 20, 1812 - 1887) were the principles of English mapmaking dynasty active in London during much of the 19th century. The elder Wyld was a map publisher under William Faden and did considerable work on the Ordinance Survey. On Faden's retirement, Wyld took over Faden's workshop acquiring many of his plates. Wyld's work can often be distinguished from his son's maps through his imprint, which he signed as 'Successor to Faden'. Following in his father's footsteps the younger Wyld joined the Royal Geographical Society in 1830 at the tender age of 18. When his father died in 1836, James Wyld II was prepared to fully take over and expand his father's considerable cartographic enterprise. Like his father and Faden, Wyld II held the title of official Geographer to the Crown, in this case, Queen Victoria. In 1852 he moved operations from William Faden's old office at Charing Cross East (1837 - 1852) to a new larger space at 475 Strand. Wyld II also chose to remove Faden's name from all of his updated map plates. Wyld II continued to update and republish both his father's work and the work of William Faden well into the late 1880s. One of Wyld's most eccentric and notable achievements is his 1851 construction of a globe 19 meters (60 feet) in diameter in the heart of Leicester Square, London. In the 1840s Wyld also embarked upon a political career, being elected to parliament in 1847 and again in 1857. He died in 1887 following a prolific and distinguished career. After Wyld II's death, the family business was briefly taken over by James John Cooper Wyld (1844 - 1907), his son, who ran the firm from 1887 to 1893 before selling the business to Edward Stanford. All three Wylds are notable for producing, in addition to their atlas maps, short run maps expounding upon important historical events - illustrating history as it was happening - among them are maps related to the California Gold Rush, the New South Wales Gold Rush, the Scramble for Africa, the Oregon Question, and more. Learn More...


Very good. Original linen stable.


OCLC 4577124.