Catalog Archive
Auction 182, Lot 372


"Amer. Sep. Partie du Mexique. No. 70", Vandermaelen, Philippe Marie Guillaume

Subject: Southwest Mexico; Chimborazo, Ecuador

Period: 1825-27 (published)

Publication: Atlas Universel

Color: Hand Color

22.9 x 18.3 inches
58.2 x 46.5 cm
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Vandermaelen was the son of a wealthy industrialist who abandoned his father's business to follow a career in cartography. His goal was to produce the first atlas ever published in which every map was drawn on the same projection and to the same scale (1: 1,641,836), with each map covering an area of approximately 20 degrees of longitude (from Paris) and 6 degrees of latitude. Because of the consistent scale and projection, the maps could be joined together to form a huge globe that would measure over 25 feet in diameter. Vandermaelen had the only known globe constructed from his maps, requiring a special room for its display. It was also the first lithographic atlas ever published. There was one edition of the atlas, published in 1825-27, and the subscription list shows that only 810 copies were sold. Koeman called his Atlas Universel, "One of the most remarkable world atlases ever made. Far ahead of its time."

This map covers the Mexican coastline from Zacatula (La Union) to Arro Hemoso (Cerro Hermoso), with Acapulco in the center. The mountainous region is shown in intricate topographical detail. Most of the sheet is dominated by an inset profile and chart of Chimborazo, the famous volcano in the Andes, based on data collected by Alexander von Humboldt, Aime Bonpland, and Carlos Montufar on their climb in June 1802. Humboldt's chart was significant for illustrating species of plant life in relation to elevation. At the time of Humboldt's climb, Chimborazo was considered the highest mountain in the world. His journey to the summit failed at just over 19,000 feet due to an impassable ravine blocking his ascent.

The Atlas Universel contained 400 maps in six volumes. It was the first atlas made up of lithographed maps, and the first to present all the maps on the same scale (1: 1,641,836), with each map covering an area of approximately 20 degrees longitude (from Paris) and 6 degrees of latitude. If all the maps were joined together they would form a globe of 7.75 meters in diameter. The maps were published by subscription between 1825 and 1827, with each part containing ten maps. There was only one edition and the subscription list shows that 810 copies were sold; thus the maps are quite rare.


Condition: B

Contemporary color with light offsetting and minor scattered foxing.

Estimate: $180 - $220

Sold for: $26

Closed on 4/28/2021