Catalog Archive
Auction 159, Lot 619

Arrowsmith's Large-Format Map of Asia

"[On 4 Sheets] Asia", Arrowsmith, Aaron, Sr.

Subject: Asia

Period: 1801 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

56.6 x 24.2 inches
143.8 x 61.5 cm
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This incredibly detailed, large-format map covers all of Asia from the Ural Mountains and Black Sea to Japan and the Philippines. It is most remarkable for its superb topographical detail considering the remoteness of much of the region. In the Pacific, the route of both the Lion (Lord McCartney's Embassy to China) and the Astrolabe (La Perouse's Voyage Around the World) are shown off of eastern Asia. The map includes several notations along the Arctic Circle including "here some Dutch Vessels wintered in 1596" (Nova Zembla) and "A spot where a copper kettle was found and some cloven wood." Arrowsmith dedicated the map to James Rennell, who is now considered the "Father of Indian Cartography," and no doubt incorporated his surveys in the southern sections of this map. Engraved by George Allen and decorated by an elaborate title cartouche featuring weaponry and flora.

Aaron Arrowsmith established his own cartographic business in 1790 after working with Faden and Cary for two decades. He quickly became one of the most prominent mapmakers in London and established an international reputation. That reputation was built on his ability to gather up-to-date information from a wide variety of sources and compile the most accurate and highly detailed maps. He went on to become Hydrographer to the King of England and Geographer to the Prince of Wales. He specialized in large-format, multi-sheet, separately issued maps that are now very scarce. Printed on four sheets that are joined into a northern half and a southern half.


Condition: B+

Original outline color on a clean, bright sheet with a hint of toning. There are several fold separations that have been fully closed on verso with archival tape, including three on the top sheet approximately 1" - 1.5" long, as well as a 4" and 5.5" separation on the bottom sheet. Several minor edge chips and tears are confined to the blank margins.

Estimate: $3,000 - $3,750

Sold for: $2,200

Closed on 9/14/2016