An uncommon 1848 full color edition of the S.D.U.K map of North America. The map covers all of the United States, Canada, Russian America (Alaska) and Mexico shortly following the Mexican American War (1846-1848) and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. The 1848 treaty, which formally ended the war, annexed all Mexican territory north of the Gila and Rio Grande Rivers, including the short lived Republic of Texas, to the United States, increasing the country's size by about 35%. This map thus details highly ephemeral period before 1849 Gold Rush and the territorial reconfigurations that followed in the wake of America's great westward expansion. Texas is shown in its grandest incarnation, extending north as far as the Arkansas River and west as far as the Rio Grande (or Rio de Norte), inclusive of much of modern day New Mexico, Colorado, and Kansas. A number of additional elements are of some interest, including the identification of the Astoria trading post on Oregon's Columbia River and an exceptionally narrow Lake Michigan. Published in 1848 by Charles Knight of 22 Ludgate Street for the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, or S.D.U.K. This was most likely the last edition of the S.D.U.K. atlas to be published before the society formally closed its doors. However, it is known that subsequent reissues of the S.D.U.K. atlas were printed well into the 1870s by Chapman and Hall, who acquired the original plates.
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.
Charles Knight (March 15, 1791 - March 9, 1873) was an English map publisher, author, and editor. Knight was born to a known publishing family. His father, a bookseller of Windsor took him as an apprentice. On fulfilling his indenture, Knight proceed to publish several small newspapers, including The Etonian and Knight's Quarterly Magazine. In 1828 Knight has contracted to become the superintendent of the newly formed Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, or S.K.U.K. for short. Knight's personal values matched those of the S.D.U.K., whose stated purpose was the democratization of knowledge. Most of Knight's cartographic publications were in association with the S.K.U.K., which financed a detailed and comprehensive world atlas. Despite Knights able management, the goals of the S.D.U.K. we're not fiscally supported by the sale of its publication and the organization folded in 1848. Knight however, continued his publishing career as well has his career as an author, producing such works as The Results of Machinery (1831) and Knowledge is Power (1855). He also composed his own autobiography, published in two volumes from 1864 to 1865, entitled Working Life during Half a Century. Knight died in Addlestone, Surrey, in 1873, at a respectable 81 years.
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.
Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, (London: Charles Knight) 1848.