Folding map consisting of two large sheets, each 49 x 37 1/2 inches. Dissected & folding to c. 14 1/2 x 9 1/2-inch; each mounted on linen & edged with green silk, as issued. Full, vibrant hand color of the period; bit of wrinkling, a few faint stains, else fine condition.
A beautiful example in full, vibrant, period color of a majestic, folding world map. A rare issue with very important updates. The map is an extraordinary compendium of oceanic exploration and contains voyage tracks from the 15th century to those contemporaneous with the map including those relating to polar and northwest passage-related as well as south polar explorations.
In a limited sense, as is explained below, this issue of the map was one of the first, if not the first maps to show a true northwest passage, as based on explorations completed in 1839 by Peter Dease and Alexander Simpson. The map pointedly directs attention to the piece of coast line that is described as the final link in the search for the passage: "This Coast was Explored by Mess.rs Dease and Simpson, under the Hon.ble Hudson's Bay Company, which completes the North West Passage Oct.r 1839." Dease and Simpson surveyed nearly all the area that had remained unexplored between Franklin's westernmost exploration, Return Reef (1826), and Point Barrow, the farthest east reached by Frederick William Beechey. The map presents a detailed picture of the extent of Dease and Simpson's explorations conducted from 1836 to 1839. Despite the pronouncement on the map regarding the completion of the northwest passage, as Day points out (see below), one outstanding question still remained unanswered after Dease and Simpson's explorations--whether Boothia was a peninsula or an island. Nevertheless, "their success in extending the map of the continental coastline could not be questioned" (Day). It should be noted that the northwest passage that was all but completed by virtue of Dease and Simpson's explorations is not the now navigable one that is located much farther to the north. The Dease/ Simpson passage for much of its route follows North America's continental northern coastline and is not considered navigable. The map also contains in the above area numerous details--tracks, place names and notations--regarding the explorations that preceded those of Dease and Simspon--by Franklin, Back, Beechey, Ross and others. As a result, this map is much more detailed in this region than is the conventional modern map.
The map has unusual boundaries and place name nomenclature in the Pacific Northwest. A large swath of territory extending from southern Alaska to northern California and east to the Rocky Mountains is called "Columbia," and the southern segment of this area is called "Western Territory." "Columbia" here refers to the name of the English ship (not Columbus) that was involved in Vancouver's explorations of the area. As such, it was a forerunner to the current place name, British Columbia. The place name "Western Territory," which specifically refers to the area colored in green on the map and partially overlaps that which is covered by "Columbia," is an uncommon usage and was probably of brief duration. More research is required on its history. A note states that the southern border of this area was determined by treaty in 1819. Vancouver Island is on the map still called by its earlier name, "Quadra and Vancourver Island." This name commemorates the successful negotiation between the two great explorers, the Spaniard, Juan Bodega y Quadra and the Englishman, George Vancouver, in resolving the Nootka Sound Controversy in 1794.
The map is also significant for Texas. It not only shows Texas as a republic--and may be the first world map to do so--but it also contains a note explaining the basis of this recognition: "TEXAS was acknowledged an Independent State by England, Nov.r 1840." We are certainly not aware of an earlier English world map to show Texas as a republic.
This issue of the map contains updates as late as 1840. The latter refers to a partial track of the French explorer, Jules Dumont D'Urville's Antarctic voyage, during which he was the first to discover the South Magnetic Pole. Other south polar explorations shown on the map are those of John Biscoe, 1830 to 1833, who explored part of the Antarctic mainland and circumnavigated the continent; Peter Kemp, 1833; George Powell, 1821, discoverer of the Orkney Islands; and the routes of the whaling vessels, Swan and Otter in 1808. The map contains not only the annotated track of the great 18th-century voyages of Cook, Vancouver and others but also less well known ones of the late 18th century. Included are the Asian voyages of Thomas Butler (1794) and Capt. Henry Bond (1792); Capt. James Wilson, who brought English missionaries to Tahiti in 1797; the tracks of the Hindostan and Lion that brought McCartney on his embassy to China; and several tracks relating to Capt. Bligh, those of his mutineers, and those who pursued them them.
Henry Teesdale (1776-1855) published both maps and atlases, many in collaboration with this map's engraver, John Crane Dower ( 1791?-1847), a very prolific engraver, draughtsman, publisher and printer. The prominence of Dower's name in the map's title and the absence of a mapmaker listed on the map suggest that Dower's role in its production was more than the engraving of it. Teesdale, who published two important maps, also by Dower, relating to Australia in 1831, became a partner in the Royal Bank of Australia in 1845.
* Day, A. Historical Dictionary of the Discovery and Exploration of the Northwest Passage, p. 71; Worms & Baynton-Williams, British Map Engravers, pp. 202, 654-55.