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ARROWSMITH, Aaron Sr. (1750-1823). A Map of the United States of North America. London: A. Arrowsmith, 1796, Additions 1802 [but, watermarked 1810].

ARROWSMITH, Aaron Sr. (1750-1823). A Map of the United States of North America. London: A. Arrowsmith, 1796, Additions 1802 [but, watermarked 1810].

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4 sheets joined to make 2 maps, each float-mounted and framed (each 26 x 58 4/8 inches, full margins showing the plate-mark; each framed sized: 26 x 58 4/8 inches). An exceptionally fine and detailed map of North America, with original hand-colour in outline and in part, and decorated with a magnificent cartouche of Niagara Falls with printed caption beginning, "Among the many Natural Curiosities which this Country affords, the Cataract of Niagara is infinitely the greatest...." lower left.

AN EXCEPTIONALLY FINE COPY OF ARROWSMITH'S IMPORTANT MAP OF THE UNITED STATES, this is the second edition, with additions to 1802, third issue with the Arrowsmith's address changed to "10 Soho Square", where he moved in 1808, and Arrowsmith is now the "Hydrographer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales". 

The 1802 edition is the last of Arrowsmith's large American maps to be issued before the Louisiana Purchase and it is known that Thomas Jefferson ordered himself a copy at about the same time as the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. It is also the edition that Lewis and Clark consulted for their monumental expedition.

Arrowsmith's 'Map of the United States of North America' is the most desirable from his well noted career. An acclaimed British cartographer, Aaron Arrowsmith drafted accurate, detailed charts that earned him the titles of Hydrographer to the King of England and Geographer to the Prince of Wales, extremely important distinctions during an era when Britain ruled the waves. One of the first great British cartographers of North America, Arrowsmith introduced a new standard of excellence in mapmaking in the late 18th century and almost single-handedly made London the center for the cartographic trade. Arrowsmith built his great success on this ability to attract both commercial and general viewers through his combination of visual and scientific appeal. The most influential and respected map publisher of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Arrowsmith issued maps that were the result of careful synthesis rather than systematic, scientific inquiry. His role in cartographic production was to gather the best available information from a wide variety of sources, weigh the relative merits of conflicting data, and compile the most accurate depiction possible of an area. Arrowsmith accomplished this synthesis better than any other commercial mapmaker of his day and, as a result, his maps were the most sought after and highly prized on three continents. Stevens & Tree 79 (e).


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