Catalog Archive
Auction 174, Lot 31

"The World on Mercator's Projection", SDUK Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge

Subject: World

Period: 1841 (circa)


Color: Hand Color

24.4 x 15.4 inches
62 x 39.1 cm
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The beginning of the nineteenth century saw a period of rapid market growth and innovation in the map publishing world. Increased literacy and public interest in new frontiers and colonies overwhelmed the market because it was oriented toward the small, affluent market of the previous century. With the intent to fill this void, The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) was founded in 1828 in London, by Lord Brougham and a group of men dedicated to the education of the aspiring working class and the Utilitarian ideal of 'Knowledge is Power.' The society produced an array of education materials, but the series of maps was one of their most successful ventures. A number of engravers and printers were used to produce the maps, which eventually exceed 200 sheets, and continued to be published after the Society as a whole ceased to function.

This delicately detailed map presents a considerable amount of information. The United States is shown excluding the Southwest and Texas. Texas was an independent country from 1836-1845, but it is shown here as part of Mexico. The northern border of the United States and Canada shows the disputed border for Oregon Territory coming down to about the 45th parallel at the Columbia River, which reflects British claims in that region. This was finally solved in 1846 with the border at the 49th parallel. The Arctic region shows the extent of contemporary knowledge, noting nothing besides Packed Ice north of the Bering Strait. Africa is shown with much of its interior left unmapped - that region was not mapped thoroughly until the latter part of the 19th century. An attractive and informative map surrounded with a keyboard style border. Engraved by J. & C. Walker.


Condition: B+

Contemporary outline color with light toning and soiling.

Estimate: $110 - $140

Sold for: $80

Closed on 9/11/2019