Catalog Archive
Auction 183, Lot 40

Rare Quaker Morality Map

"A Map of the Various Paths of Life", Darton, W. and Harvey, J.

Subject: Cartographic Miscellany, Fictional Map

Period: 1794 (dated)


Color: Hand Color

11.2 x 12 inches
28.4 x 30.5 cm
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This fascinating allegorical map was intended to instruct children in the proper pathways through life to reach a "Peaceful Ocean" and avoid the numerous pitfalls in character that could direct them to the "Bottomless Pit." Upon leaving Parental Care Hall at the top of the map, the goal is to reach Happy Old Age Hall at the bottom by choosing virtuous paths. There are many different paths that lead to Happy Old Age Hall, some more challenging and troublesome than others. The map teaches two basic concepts to young children. The first is that the proper paths in life bring more happiness and fulfillment and fewer problems and stress. And the second lesson is that even if a child strays off the proper path, there are always ways (some more painful than others) to get back on track to happiness. This map is an example of the moral improvement genre that was particularly popular in the late 18th century. Although the author of this map is unknown, it is sometimes attributed to George Dillwyn or his brother William, American-born Quakers. Published by William Darton and Joseph Harvey, also Quakers, who specialized in publishing Quaker works, including those aimed towards children. The map was also printed by Darton as a jigsaw puzzle, another specialty of his firm. Later editions of the map are also known, including Map of the Paths of Life (with Description) listed for sale by bookseller Thomas Dash of Kettering, England in 1824, as well as a dissected, cloth-backed edition called The Paths of Life by J H Cotterell in the 1840s.


Condition: B

A bright example with moderate soiling, professionally backed in thin tissue to repair some separations and small holes along the extraneous folds, with minute loss of image.

Estimate: $1,200 - $1,500

Sold for: $850

Closed on 6/9/2021