This fascinating hand colored 1815 map by Edinburgh cartographer John Thomson depicts Prussia (central and northern Europe). The Map covers from the Baltic Sea to Upper Silesia and from Lower Saxony to Russia, including parts of modern day Poland.
In 1815 Prussia emerged from the Napoleonic Wars and the Congress of Vienna as the dominant Germanic power. Its new borders included much of the Kingdom of Saxony, Rhineland, and Poland. In subsequent years Prussia would take a leading role in governing the German Confederation. The German Confederation, created in 1814, acted as a buffer zone between Austria and Prussia, its two largest and most powerful member states. Nonetheless the rivalry between the two powerful states would increase until the break out of the Austro-Prussian War in 1866. Prussia would win the Austro-Prussian War, which would ultimately lead to the collapse of the German Confederation. A few years later, in 1871, most of the former Confederation states were folded into the newly proclaimed German Empire.
The whole is beautifully engraved in the minimalist English style pioneered in the early part of the 19th century. Thomson maps are known for their stunning color, awe inspiring size, and magnificent detail. Thomson's work, including this map, represents some of the finest cartographic art of the 19th century. Relief is shown by hachure with towns, cities, and major topographical features identified. Engraved in 1815 and issued as plate no. 31 in the 1815 edition of Edinburgh cartographer John 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. Learn More...
Thomson, J. A New General Atlas, (Edinburgh) 1815.
Very good. Minor wear and verso repair along original centerfold. Margins and borders exhibit some damage with verso reinforcement.
Rumsey 1007.032 (1817 edition). Phillips (Atlases) 731. Newberry Library: Ayer 135 T4 1817.