1814 20 x 25 in (50.8 x 63.5 cm)
This fascinating hand colored 1815 map by Edinburgh cartographer John Thomson depicts southern Tartary, Tibet (Thibet), Mongolia, and generally the whole of Central Asia. Area covered extends from the Caspian Sea to Japan and Korea. Shows the ancient caravan routes of the Silk Road – many of which are still in use today. Magnificent size, beautiful color, and high detail make this one of the finest maps of these central Asian nations to appear in the early 19th century.
John Thomson (1777 - 1837) 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 seguing into maps and Abraham Thomson taking over the bookbinding portion of the business. Thomson is generally one of the leading masters of 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 sized.. The firm momentarily recovered in the subsequent years allowing Thomson to recover 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. Today Thomson maps are becoming increasingly rare as they are highly admired for their monumental size, vivid hand coloration, and superb detail.
Fine or Perfect condition. Wide clean margins. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso.