Catalog Archive
Auction 163, Lot 392

English Atlas Volume to Humboldt's Political Essay

"Plates to Alexander de Humboldt's Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain", Humboldt, Friedrich Heinrich Alexander von

Subject: Southwestern United States & Mexico

Period: 1811 (published)


Color: Black & White

5.6 x 8.8 inches
14.2 x 22.4 cm
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This is the atlas volume to accompany the London editions of Humboldt's Political Essay. There are a total of 9 illustrations consisting of four maps, three cross-sections, and two plates. 8vo, paperback with faux leather spine. The maps included in the volume are:

A Map of New Spain (16 x 11.2"). This is a reduced version of Humboldt's landmark map of the Southwest. The large map was the most important and accurate map of the region to be published at the time, and would remain the standard source until Fremont's mapping of the area in the 1840s. As a testament to the accuracy of the map, contemporaries Zebulon Pike and Aaron Arrowsmith copied copious information in Humboldt's map for their own publications in 1810, one year prior to Humboldt's printed map was released to the public.

Map of the Valley of Mexico and Neighboring Mountains... (10.3 x 8.0"). A highly detailed map of the region with Mexico City at center. Shows the dramatic topography of the region through the use of dense hachuring, a technique that Humboldt developed.

Plan of the Port of Veracruz (9.7 x 7.9"). Depicts the fortified city of Vera Cruz with the Castle of S. Juan de Ulna to its northeast. Filled with numerous soundings and useful navigational notations.

Plan of the Port of Acapulco (4.6 x 7.6"). A single-page map showing the vicinity around Acapulco. There is good coastal detail and numerous soundings in the port.

References: Wheat (TMW) #303; cf. Howes #H786; cf. Sabin #33715;

Condition: B+

Overall, the plates are clean, tight, and very good to near fine. The map of New Spain has a 1.5" fold separation near the middle of the image where it was bound into the volume and has been repaired on verso with archival tape. The cross-sections have faint text offsetting. Paper wrappers are lightly soiled.

Estimate: $1,000 - $1,300

Sold for: $1,900

Closed on 6/14/2017