(London: ca. 1820). 832 x 589 mm. (32 3/4 x 23 1/8"); folded maps sometimes measuring thus, sometimes a little smaller. Four unassembled wall maps on twenty-six sheets (see below).
Contemporary marbled boards, recent spine and corners made from (previously unused) 18th century russia, flat spine divided into compartments by double gilt fillets, gilt lettering. Front pastedown with armorial bookplate of Heytesbury House; upper cover with inked name "Sir Will[ia]m a'Court B[arone]t" in a contemporary hand. Binding with significant rubbing to boards, but convincingly and securely restored, with the leather unworn and the whole with considerable antique appeal. A little light offsetting on maps, second map with a few short tears and repairs to bottom edges (mostly marginal, but a couple touching the map), occasional small stains and other minor imperfections, but THE MAPS ALL IN FINE CONDITION, clean and fresh throughout.
Almost certainly assembled in the 1820's for the noted diplomat William a'Court, first Baron Heytesbury, this gigantic work is comprised of four separate maps that, if assembled, would have formed massive wall-hangings measuring, together, approximately 128 square feet. The condition here is of considerable note: had any of the maps been joined, they would very probably not have survived in the thoroughly excellent state of preservation seen here. The publisher of all four maps was the eminent cartographer Aaron Arrowsmith (1750–1823), whose reputation for excellence earned him the title of Hydrographer to the Prince Regent around 1810, followed by Hydrographer to the King in 1820. DNB tells us that he was "recognized in Britain and abroad as a cartographer of outstanding accuracy and skill . . . . His maps were in great demand by official bodies such as the Admiralty and, more surprisingly given their great size and hence cost, with the public as well." William a'Court (1779–1860) was, according to DNB, "one of the ablest diplomats of his time," having served as envoy-extraordinary to the Barbary states (where piracy ran rampant), ambassador to Russia (at the outset of the Russo-Turkish War), and lord lieutenant of Ireland (during the potato famine). He also served as envoy-extraordinary to Spain from 1822, followed by ambassador to Portugal from 1824, and it seems likely that the present work would have been assembled around that same time, when his interest in these countries and their exploits in the New World would have undoubtedly peaked. The four maps contained herein are:
1) A NEW MILITARY MAP OF SPAIN & PORTUGAL COMPILED FROM THE NAUTICAL SURVEYS OF DON VINCENT TOFINO, THE NEW PROVINCIAL MAPS OF DON TOMAS LOPEZ, THE LARGE MAP OF THE PYRENEES BY ROUSSELL, AND VARIOUS ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS. (London: Re-published by A. Arrowsmith, 10 Soho Square, Hydrographer to His Majesty, [ca. 1820]). Sheet size: 708 x 575 mm. (27 7/8" x 22 1/2"). Twelve single sheets with contemporary hand coloring, mounted on tabs, which would assemble to form one great 63 x 82" map. With information gathered from a variety of sources, this map contains an extraordinary amount of topographical information as well as the careful delineation of cities, towns, fortified towns, principal villages, villages, and inns. We were unable to find any records for any edition having sold at auction in ABPC or RBH.
2) OUTLINES OF THE PHYSICAL AND POLITICAL DIVISIONS OF SOUTH AMERICA . . . PARTLY FROM SCARCE AND ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS, PUBLISHED BEFORE THE YEAR 1806 BUT PRINCIPALLY FROM MANUSCRIPT MAPS & SURVEYS MADE BETWEEN THE YEARS 1771 AND 1806, CORRECTED FROM ACCURATE ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS TO 1810. (London: Published 4th January 1811 by A. Arrowsmith No. 10 Soho Square, Hydrographer to His Majesty. Additions to 1814, 1817, 1819 [ca. 1820]). Sheet size: 830 x 1036 mm. (32 5/8 x 40 3/4"). Six double-page sheets mounted on tabs, which would measure 78 x 94 1/2" if joined. This is one of the finest large-scale maps of South America produced in the early 19th century, published during a period of rapid political change during which much of Latin America achieved independence from Spain and Portugal. This appears to be quite rare at auction, with no records having appeared in RBH and ABPC in the past 20 years (and just a handful of copies before that).
3) A NEW MAP OF MEXICO AND ADJACENT PROVINCES COMPILED FROM ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS BY A. ARROWSMITH 1810. (London: Published 5th October 1810 by A. Arrowsmith, No. 10 Soho Square, Hydrographer to His Majesty, [but ca. 1820]). Sheet size: 690 x 855 mm. (27 1/8 x 33 5/8"). Four double-page sheets, which would form one 50 1/2 x 62" wall map if assembled. Fifth Edition. Streeter, "Bibliography of Texas" 1046; Phillips, "Maps," p. 408; Martin & Martin 25. First published in 1810, this is an important depiction of Louisiana and even more important as a cornerstone map of Mexico and the American Southwest. According to Martin & Martin, "By combining the best parts of Humboldt's and Pike's maps and avoiding their errors, and by adding his own new information, Arrowsmith contributed a significantly improved depiction of the region." Although Streeter calls this imprint the first edition, David Rumsey has shown that it was, in fact, printed in 1820 after Arrowsmith began using the title of "Hydrographer to His Majesty." It also clearly shows the 1819 Adams-Onis Treaty line along the 42nd parallel. As Rumsey notes, "The mystery is why Arrowsmith did not add "additions to 1820" on the title, and in fact erased the "additions to 1817" that must have appeared on the plate from the most recent changes made before the 1820 changes, thereby leaving only 1810 on the title." Because copies with this imprint have frequently been advertised as true first editions, auction records are bit unreliable; however, later editions (which seem to be much rarer at auction than those with an 1810 imprint) of this work still fetch robust prices at auction: RBH shows an 1815 edition that sold for an all-in price of $10,000 in 2015 and an 1816 edition that sold for an all-in price of $10,200 in 2015.
4) CHART OF THE WEST INDIES AND SPANISH DOMINIONS IN NORTH AMERICA. (London: Published June 1st 1803 by A. Arrowsmith No. 10 Soho Square. With Additions to 1810, [probably ca. 1820]). Single sheet size: 680 x 500 mm. (26 3/4 x 19 3/4"). Two double-page sheets and two single sheets, which would form one 48 x 56" map if assembled. Streeter, "Bibliography of Texas" 1031 (for first edition). This was one of the best available large-scale maps of Louisiana, Florida, and especially the West Indies in the early 19th century, rendered with excellent detail (particularly for Mexico). It includes interesting historical details, such as the locations of "Canals proposed to be cut by the Spaniards in 1528." Although the imprint on this copy says that the map contains additions to 1810 (which would indicate that this is a second edition), we see that Arrowsmith here uses the title of "Hydrographer to His Majesty," which, as noted above, was used by the cartographer from 1820 onward. Our copy also includes an inset of the Isthmus of Darien, which is not found on other copies of the second edition. Rumsey tells us that "Stevens and Tree only list two editions, 1803 and 1810, but Phillips lists an 1811 (P-Maps) and an 1816 (atlases). There probably were others." We find only one copy at auction with the same imprint and appearance as our copy, which sold at Bloomsbury in 2008 for $6,600 all in. (Lhi21078)