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1795 Carey Map of the North Pole (Arctic)

A Map of the Countries situate about the North Pole as far as the 50th Degree of North Latitude. - Main View

1795 Carey Map of the North Pole (Arctic)


Presenting Americans with the North Parts of the World.


A Map of the Countries situate about the North Pole as far as the 50th Degree of North Latitude.
  1795 (undated)     9.75 x 9.25 in (24.765 x 23.495 cm)     1 : 40000000


This is Mathew Carey's 1795 map of the North Pole and the surrounding seas. The map illustrates the extent of exploration, as well as the may uncertainties, of polar region to the date of publication.
A Closer Look
The map uses a polar projection to show the world from 50º N to the pole. Thus, it embraces part of Newfoundland, northern Canada, and Alaska in the western hemisphere; Kamchatka, Siberia, and the Russian north in Asia; and Great Britain, the Baltic coast, and Scandinavia in continental Europe. The North Atlantic and the Canadian Maritimes include Spitsbergen, Iceland, Greenland, Baffin Bay, and Hudson's Bay.
The Northern Limits of Geographical Knowledge
The Pole, while given few defining coasts, is marked as a 'Frozen Ocean'. The north European coast is depicted clearly until the upper limit of Nova Zembla - whose east coast, even two hundred years after Barentsz' fateful attempt, remained imprecisely mapped. The remainder of the Siberian coastline is otherwise complete, consistent with French and English mapmaking of the late 18th century. In contrast, the northern limits of Greenland and Canada are not shown definitively, with dotted lines indicating an uncertain coastline reaching from just north of the Bering Strait to the eastern coast of Greenland. (This confusion is not aided by the portrayal of Baffin Bay as having no northern outlet, which leaves possible the suggestion that Greenland might be contiguous with the North American landmass.

The Bering Strait and the Aleutian Islands follow Cook's discoveries In Canada, and Samuel Hearne's 1771 track from Hudson's Bay to the Arctic mouth of the Coppermine River is illustrated.
Publication History and Census
This map was engraved by William Barker for inclusion in the 1795 edition of Carey's General Atlas (often subtitled American Edition of Guthrie's Geography improved). It continued to appear in subsequent editions of that work. The 1795 and 1796 editions (lacking a plate number but including Barker's imprint in the lower right) are identical, but contextually we are able to identify the present example as coming from the 1796 edition. The 1811 edition retains Barker's imprint but has the page number '44' in the upper right. For editions of 1814 and later, Barker's imprint is removed, and the page number changed to '57.' The map appears on the market from time to time in its various editions.


Matthew Carey (January 28, 1760 - September 16, 1839) was a Dublin born publisher who established himself in Philadelphia in the late 18th and early 19th century. A young man of socially progressive views, Carey's first known publication, produced when he was but 17 years old, was a pamphlet criticizing dueling. Another pamphlet, issued in the same year, attacked the Irish penal code. Shortly afterwards, in 1779, legal issues, possibly arising from his liberal political activism, forced Carey to flee to Paris. In Paris, Carey had the good fortune to befriend the visiting American diplomat and founding father, Benjamin Franklin (1706 - 1790). As an Irishman chafing under the rule of England, Carey sympathized with and admired the American revolutionary. The liberally minded pair struck up a lifelong friendship and Carey was hired to work at Franklin's press in Passy, France. A year later, Carey returned to Ireland and resumed his politically provocative publishing career with The Freemans's Journal and The Volunteer's Journal. It didn't take long for political pressure to once again force Carey from Ireland - this time to America (1784). Although largely without funds, Carey convinced Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette (1757 - 1834), who he knew from Franklin's Paris circle, to lend him funds to establish a new publishing concern in Philadelphia. Despite this loan, Carey's firm remained under financed and opened on a shoestring budget. It was most likely his limited budget that led Carey to some of his most important publishing innovations. At the time cartographic publishing was dominated by large printing houses in London and Paris where most, if not all, of the work was completed in house. Without the finances to emulate this large publishing houses, Carey was forced to outsource much of his publishing work. This set the stage for subsequent American publishers who, in order to compete effectively with European firms, relied on an often bewildering network of alliances and collaborations. Carey was also a master of republishing many of his own maps in multiple different atlases and formats to maximize their profitability. His most important work is without a doubt the 1795 issue of the American Atlas the first atlas to be published in America. Carey died in 1839 but was succeeded by his son Henry Charles Carey (1793 - 1879) who, in partnership with his brother-in-law Isaac Lea (1792 - 1886), published numerous important maps and atlases under the Carey and Lea, Lea Brothers, and Lea and Blanchard imprints. More by this mapmaker...

William Barker (fl. c. 1794 – 1815), often listed as 'W. Barker,' was an engraver based in Philadelphia who engraved most of the maps for Carey's General Atlas, published in multiple editions between 1795 and 1818. Learn More...


Carey, M., Carey's General Atlas, (Philadelphia: Carey) 1796.    


Good. Discoloration and wear along fold. Margin extended at right, not impacting printed image.


OCLC 6156333343. Rumsey 2862 .044.