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1816 Thomson Map of the Northern Hemisphere and the Arctic

Northern Hemisphere. - Main View

1816 Thomson Map of the Northern Hemisphere and the Arctic



Northern Hemisphere.
  1816 (dated)     23 x 21 in (58.42 x 53.34 cm)     1 : 41000000


This is a beautiful hand colored 1816 map by Edinburgh cartographer John Thomson depicting the Northern Hemisphere projected on the plane of the horizon of London. It covers all of North America, Europe, Asia and Africa as well as the northern parts of South America. Impressive detail encompasses both political and geographic features. The routes of Captain Cook are noted throughout. The map also notes the Bherings (Bering) Island off the Kamchatka Peninsula with a note reading 'Where he died in 1741.' In Africa, the mythical Mountains of Kong are shown extending eastward to join with the Mountains of the Moon – mythical source of the Nile River. Exhibits a general lack of information regarding the Arctic and connects Greenland with the mainland. Seems to leave the possibility of a Northeast, though not a Northwest, passage open. This map was engraved by J. and G. Menzies and published by Baldwin and Cradock in Thomson's New General Atlas.


John Thomson (1777 - c. 1841) was a Scottish cartographer, publisher, and bookbinder active in Edinburgh during the early part of the 19th century. Thomson apprenticed under Edinburgh bookbinder Robert Alison. After his apprenticeship he briefly went into business with Abraham Thomson. Later the two parted ways, John Thomson segueing into maps and Abraham Thomson taking over the bookbinding portion of the business. Thomson is generally one of the leading publishers in the Edinburgh school of cartography which flourished from roughly 1800 to 1830. Thomson and his contemporaries (Pinkerton and Cary) redefined European cartography by abandoning typical 18th century decorative elements such as elaborate title cartouches and fantastic beasts in favor of detail and accuracy. Thomson's principle works include Thomson's New General Atlas, published from 1814 to 1821, the New Classical and Historical Atlas of 1829, and his 1830 Atlas of Scotland. The Atlas of Scotland, a work of groundbreaking detail and dedication would eventually bankrupt the Thomson firm in 1830, at which time their plates were sequestered by the court. The firm partially recovered in the subsequent year allowing Thomson to reclaim his printing plates in 1831, but filed again for bankruptcy in 1835, at which time most of his printing plates were sold to A. K. Johnston and Company. There is some suggestion that he continued to work as a bookbinder until 1841. Today, Thomson maps are becoming increasingly rare as they are highly admired for their impressive size, vivid hand coloration, and superb detail. More by this mapmaker...

Baldwin and Cradock (fl. c. 1810 - 1860) were London based publishers working in the early to mid 19th century. They are best known for their publication of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge's ground breaking subscription atlas. They also published John Thomson's magnificent New General Atlas from 1814 - c. 1820. In addition to their cartographic corpus, the firm had wide ranging publishing interests in many other areas, including books, broadsides, and an investment in Blackwoods Magazine. They had their offices at 47 Paternoster Row, London, England. This firm also published under the imprint Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy and Cradock and Joy. Learn More...


Thomson, J., A new general atlas, consisting of a series of geographical designs, on various projections, exhibiting the form and component parts of the globe; and a collection of maps and charts, delineating the natural and political divisions of the empires, kingdoms, and states in the World. (1817 edition).    


Very good. Original platemark visible. Original centerfold visible. Minor toning and foxing.


Rumsey 1007.007. Phillips (Atlases) 731. Newberry Library: Ayer +135 T4 1817.