A masterpiece. This fascinating hand colored 1814 map by Edinburgh cartographer John Thomson depicts the West Indies and Central America. Covers from the Carolinas south through Texas, Mexico and central America to the northern part of South America as far as Venezuela and the Orinoco Delta. Includes all of the West Indies islands including the Caribbean and the Greater and Lesser Antilles. Extraordinarily details with notations on both physical and political features, as well as undersea elements, banks, and shoals. Notates several American Indian tribes in both North and South America. This map's magnificent size, beautiful color, and high detail make this one of the finest maps of this region to appear in the early 19th century.
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.
Fine or Perfect condition. Wide clean margins. Original platemark visible. Blank on verso.