1840 (dated) 15.5 x 12 in (39.37 x 30.48 cm)
1 : 18000
This is a fine 1840 map or plan of the city of Philadelphia by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. It depicts the entire city in stupendous detail, noting individual streets, important buildings, rivers, squares, piers and neighborhoods. A key in the lower left quadrant lists the various locations marked on the map. Two illustrations, one of the United States Bank and another of the Exchange, are included along the right border. This map was published by the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge in 1840. Although the Society closed its doors in 1848, 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" 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.
Very good. Blank on verso.