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1877 Petermann Map of the Middle East and Central Asia During the Great Game

Russisch-Turkisch-Persisch-Englische Grenzländer von Bosnien vis Kaschgar und Indien. - Main View

1877 Petermann Map of the Middle East and Central Asia During the Great Game


Depicts the entire area of conflict during The Great Game.


Russisch-Turkisch-Persisch-Englische Grenzländer von Bosnien vis Kaschgar und Indien.
  1877 (dated)     21 x 27 in (53.34 x 68.58 cm)     1 : 7500000


This is a scarce and unusual 1877 Augustus Petermann map of the Middle East and Central Asia at the height of The Great Game, a decades-long diplomatic duel between the British and Russian Empires. Detailing the entire theater of war, the map's polyconic projection covers from the Balkans to British India; Crimea to the Persian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The Russian Empire stretches across the top of the map, an ever-expanding threat to countries to the south with deep water ports on the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean. Throughout the 19th century, the Russian drive southward led to several wars with Persia and Turkey, which also embroiled British and French interests, staging Russia as 'the great enemy'.
The Great Game - The Struggle for Afghanistan
'The Great Game' was a diplomatic confrontation between the British and Russian Empires over Afghanistan and other territories in Central and Southern Asia. The conflict, rooted in long-standing animosity between Russia and Britain, revolved around Afghanistan, which, while lacking significant resources of its own, was strategically situated. For its part, Russia feared Britain was making commercial and military inroads into Central Asia, an area long within the sphere of influence of St. Petersburg. Britain, conversely, feared Russia making gains in India, 'the jewel in the crown' of British Asia. The escalating tensions led to several wars and proxy wars: The First Anglo-Afghan War (1839 - 1842), the First Anglo-Sikh War (1845 - 1846), the Second Anglo-Sikh War (1848 - 1849), and the Second Anglo-Afghan War (1878 - 1880), along with the Russian annexations of Khiva, Bukhara, and Kokand. Then as now, Afghanistan proved a grinding stone upon which the world's great empires diminished themselves, none achieving a definitive victory despite committing staggering resources. The Great Game ended on September 10, 1895 with the signing of the Pamir Boundary Commission Protocols, which stabilized the border between Afghanistan and the Russian Empire.
Verso Content – A Look at the 19th Century Map Market
An address, postage stamp, Gotha postmark, and numerous Cammerstein postmarks on the verso provide some insight into the map's history. The publisher, Perthes, was based in Gotha, so it is likely this map was mailed directly to a client - curiously without even an envelope. Such underscores the low value placed on printed maps, which while having immediate informational value, were considered 'items of the moment' to be used and discarded.
Publication History and Census
This map was created by Augustus Petermann and published by Justus Perthes in 1877. Nine examples are catalogued in the OCLC and are part of the institutional collections at the University of Oklahoma, the University of London Senate House Library, the British Library, the Bibliothèque national de France, the State Library of Württemburg, and university libraries in Bremen, Hamburg, and Erfurt.


August Heinrich Petermann (1822 - 1878) was a German cartographer. Petermann attended the 'Geographische Kuntschule' (Geographica School of Art), which was started by Heinrich Berghaus with the support of Alexander von Humboldt, in Potsdam beginning in 1839. Students at the school were obliged to work on many of the school's contracts, including maps for several different atlases. Following his time in Potsdam, Petermann relocated to Edinburgh and London from 1845 to 1854, where he gained insight into the commercial aspects of the cartography business. In 1854, Petermann returned to Gotha, Germany and began working with the Perthes brothers publishers. While working with the Perthes brothers, Petermann founded the journal Petermanns Geographische Mitteilungen, published from 1855 until 2014, long one of the most prominent German-language geography journals. More by this mapmaker...

Johan Georg Justus Perthes (September 11, 1749 - May 2, 1816) was one of the most important German cartographic engravers of the 19th century. He was born in the Thuringian town of Rudolstadt, the son of a court physician. In 1778, he began working as a bookseller in Gotha. Perthes began his publishing empire shortly thereafter with the 1784 issue of the famed survey of European nobility known as the Almanac de Gotha. In the next year, 1785, he founded the cartographic firm of Justus Perthes Geographische Anstalt Gotha. His son Wilhelm Perthes (1793 - 1853) joined the firm in 1814. Wilhelm had prior publishing experience at the firm of Justus Perthes' nephew, Friedrich Christoph Perthes, who ran a publishing house in Hamburg. After Justus Perthes died in 1816, Wilhelm took charge and laid the groundwork for the firm to become a cartographic publishing titan. From 1817 to 1890. the Perthes firm issued thousands of maps and more than 20 different atlases. Along with the visionary editors Hermann Berghaus (1797 - 1884), Adolph Stieler (1775 - 1836), and Karl Spruner (1803 - 1892), the Perthes firm pioneered the Hand Atlas. When Wilhelm retired, management of the firm passed to his son, Bernhardt Wilhelm Perthes (1821 – 1857). Bernhardt brought on the cartographic geniuses August Heinrich Peterman (1822 - 1878) and Bruno Hassenstein (1839 - 1902). The firm was subsequently passed to a fourth generation in the form of Berhanrd Perthes (1858 – 1919), Bernhard Wilhelm's son. The firm continued in the family until 1953 when, being in East Germany, it was nationalized and run as a state-owned enterprise as VEB Hermann Haack Geographisch-Kartographische Anstalt Gotha. The Justus family, led by Joachim Justus Perthes and his son Wolf-Jürgen Perthes, relocated to Darmstadt where they founded the Justus Perthes Geographische Verlagsanstalt Darmstadt. Learn More...


Good. Map exhibits some discoloration. Also exhibits wear along original fold lines and some small areas of reinstatement at fold intersections. Address written in ink on verso and postage stamp present. Postmarks stamped on verso.


OCLC 314618016.