This is a beautiful example of the 1842 Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge or S.D.U.K. map of the northern part of South America. It covers from Panama to Peru and depicts Ecuador, Granada, Venezuela along with parts of Brazil and British Guyana. Throughout, the map identifies various cities, towns, rivers, mountain passes and an assortment of additional topographical details. In the top left quadrant, the map features notes on the finished Canal of Raspadura and the proposed Canals of Cupica and Panama.
While work on the Panama Canal would begin in 1880 and be completed in 1914, the Raspadura Canal has been appearing in maps from the early 19th century, as the 'Atrato Canal.' Supposedly in existence since 1788, it linked the San Juan and Atrato Rivers. First known to be documented in the early 1800's by Alexander von Humboldt in his early writings about his explorations of the New World, he writes:
In the interior of the province of Choco, the small ravine, de la Raspadura, unites the neighboring sources of the Rio San Juan and the small river Quito (a tributary of the Atrato). A monk of great activity, cure of the village of Novita, employed his parishioners to dig a small canal in the ravine de la Raspadura, by means of which, when the rains are abundant, canoes loaded with cacao pass from sea to sea. This interior communication has existed since 1788, unknown in Europe. The small canal unites, on the coasts of the two oceans, two points 75 leagues distant from one another.
David Howarth in his book 'The Golden Isthmus' suggests that the cure of Novita did not build, but only reopened the canal by digging out a preexisting one. He writes:
On the whole, it seems likely there was a canal, or had been. Possibly it was built by the Indians in an earlier epoch: they had been quite capable of it. Or possibly it was a Spanish smuggling route: not only cocoa but gold and silver might have been taken that way to avoid the duty – and perhaps the awkward questions – of officials at Panama. . . . The problem awaits an explorer.
Envisioning an independent New World nation comprising all of the territories under the Spanish and Portuguese colonial rule, the Venezuelan revolutionary Francisco de Miranda suggested a consolidated South American empire named after Christopher Columbus. The idea took hold and in 1819 the territories known as the ‘Viceroyalty of New Granada' (comprising of modern day Colombia, Ecuador, Panama, and Venezuela), became the first South American region to liberate itself from Spain. The region was renamed ‘Gran Colombia.' The war against Spain ended in the mid-1820s when the pro-Spanish loyalists were decisively crushed. The congress of Cucuta adopted a constitution for the new republic in 1821. The vision of Gran Columbia, unfortunately, proved untenable and both Venezuela and Ecuador split off to become independent states 1829 and 1830, respectively.
This map was originally copyrighted in 1842, but was issued in Volume two of Chapman and Hall's 1844 edition of Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge
. It was engraved by John Walker of J. and C. Walker.
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...
Chapman and Hall (fl. 1830 - present) was a British publishing house in London, founded in 1830 by Edward Chapman and William Hall. Upon Hall's death in 1847, Chapman's cousin Frederic Chapman became partner in the company, of which he became sole manager upon the retirement of Edward Chapman in 1864. In 1868 author Anthony Trollope bought a third of the company for his son, Henry Merivale Trollope. From 1902 to 1930 the company's managing director was Arthur Waugh. In the 1930s the company merged with Methuen, a merger which, in 1955 participated in forming the Associated Book Publishers. The latter was acquired by The Thomson Corporation in 1987. Chapman and Hall was sold again in 1998 as part of Thomson Scientific and Professional to Wolters Kluwer, who sold on its well-regarded mathematics and statistics list to CRC Press. Today the name of Chapman and Hall/CRC is used as an imprint for science and technology books by Taylor and Francis, part of the Informa group since 2004. The company is best known for its publication of the works of Charles Dickens (from 1840 until 1844 and again from 1858 until 1870), William Thackeray, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Eadweard Muybridge and Evelyn Waugh. They continued to publish hitherto unpublished Dickens material well into the 20th century. In cartographic circles they are known as the primary publishers of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Atlas, a massive 200+ map atlas that was popular in England during the mid-19th century. Learn More...
John Walker (1787 - April 19, 1873) was a British mapseller, engraver, lithographer, hydrographer, geographer, draughtsman and publisher active in London during the 19th century. Walker published both nautical charts and geographical maps. His nautical work is particular distinguished as he was an official hydrographer for the British East India Company, a position, incidentally, also held by his father of the same name. Walker's maps mostly published after 1827, were primarily produced in partnership with his brother Charles Walker under the imprint J. and C. Walker. Among their joint projects are more than 200 maps for the influential Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Atlas (SDUK). In addition they published numerous charts for James Horsburgh and the British Admiralty Hydrographic Office, including Belcher's important map of Hong Kong and Carless' exploratory map of Karachi. The J. and C. Walker firm continued to publish after both Walkers died in the 1870s. Learn More...
Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, (London: Chapman and Hall)
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. Bears University of California Library Stamp, from which it was deaccessioned, in margin. Blank on verso. Narrow right margin.
Rumsey 0890.147. Phillips (Atlases) 794.