A stunning example of Alexander von Humboldt's 1811 geological profile view of southern portion of the Mexican Plateau. This view covers the corridor between Mexico City and Guanajuato, including the centers of Tula and Queretaro. The profile betrays Humboldt's background as a mining geologist in Germany where such profiles were composed in order to assess the mineral wealth of potential excavation sites. Today the areas represented here are among the most populous in Mexico and indeed, the world. This view was composed by Humboldt in 1803, during his stay in Mexico City. Like of Humboldt's geological work, this view is considerably advanced over earlier understandings of the region by virtue of incorporating Humboldt's vast knowledge of cartography and geology. The view was later engraved by Raphael Davalos, L. Albert and printed by Bouquet of Paris for the 1811 issue of Humboldt's important Essai politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne, one of the most influential books written about late colonial period Mexico.
Alexander von Humboldt (September 14, 1769 - May 6, 1859), whose full birth name is Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander Freiherr von Humboldt was a German born naturalist, biologist, geologist, explorer and cartographer active in the late 18th and first half of the 19th century. The importance and scope of Humboldt's work is staggering and its influence on both the development of America and the development of science itself is second to none. As Emil Du Bois-Reymond said, "Every scientist is a descendant of Humboldt. We are all his family." To compose a full biography of Humboldt is the work of volumes, not this simple medium, so we will attempt to focus on the highlights of Humboldt's life as it pertains to cartography. Humboldt was the first scientist to embrace and actually take into the field the Kantian concept of a union between careful scientific observation and intuitive analysis. Between 1799 and 1804 Humboldt traveled through northwestern South America, Central America, Mexico, and parts of the United States. During this voyage he collected a wealth scientific observations and measurements, including considerable surveying and cartographic work, in each of the regions through which he passed. Humboldt's mapping of Mexico, then inclusive of much of the southwestern part of the United States, was an accomplishment of seminal importance, not only because it was the finest map of the region yet produced, but also because of its impact on the future political geography of the Americas. Upon his arrival in Washington, Humboldt struck up a friendship with president Thomas Jefferson, soon to be president James Madison, and other luminaries of post Colonial America. He freely shared his mappings of Mexico with the U.S. President, little suspecting that they would soon influence the results of the Mexican American War and the manifest destiny movement that would follow. When he returned to Germany, Humboldt began a life-long correspondence with scientific luminaries and explorers throughout the world and most particularly in America. Humboldt's influence can be directly tagged to the development of numerous important careers in American cartography, including those of Nicolette, Fremont, Wilkes, Hassler, Bache, and others. Though Humboldt never again visited America, his name is etched across our landscape through numerous Mountains, Rivers, Islands, and other geological features that bear his name. Had the votes in Congress swayed slightly to the other direction, even the entire state of Nevada would have been the state of Humboldt. Throughout his life, Humboldt was a tireless supporter of human equality, scientific advancement, and personal liberty. Humboldt died in Berlin at 89 years old, in his long life he was an inspiration to the invention of modern anthropology, the political destiny of South America, the geographical exploration of the American West, and, ultimately, the development of modern science.
Humboldt, A., Atlas Geographique Et Physique Du Royaume De La Nouvelle-Espagne, Fonde Sur Des Observations Astronomiques, Des Mesures Trigonometriques Et Des Nivellemens Barometriques., (Paris) 1811.
Very good. Original centerfold visible. Offsetting.