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2007 Catalog > 7. Alexander von Humboldt, Carte du Mexique

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“Humboldt’s maps, for their period, were achievements of the first rank.”
— Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West

7. Alexander von Humboldt / J. B. Poirson. “Carte du Mexique et des Pays Limitrophes situés au Nord et à l’est Dressée d’après la Grande Carte de la Nouvelle-Espagne . . . de Mr. A. de Humboldt et d’autres Matériaux par J. B. Poirson” (Paris: chez F. Schoell, Libraire, 1811). First French edition, but separately issued as a case map. Double-page copperplate engraving in black and white, as issued. Dissected and laid on linen. 16 1/2 x 28 1/4" at neat line. Sheet size: 19 1/2 x 31". Minor transference and surface soiling. Overall a fine, strong impression.


The present is the case-map version of Humboldt’s famous work, originally published in his Atlas Geographique et Physique du Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne. The atlas accompanied the rare grand folio edition of Humboldt’s seminal Essai Politique sur le Royaume de la Nouvelle-Espagne, first published in Paris in 1811.

One of the most important early-nineteenth-century works on the West, the map depicts the American Southwest, the Rockies, and Texas. Included are all the provinces that depended on the viceroy of Mexico and the two commandants of the provincias internas, including Texas, Cuba (which was considered the military port of New Spain), and Louisiana. The map also shows the American states along the Atlantic seaboard. It was important to the development of Texas and the American Southwest because it was the first one to include information from the Spanish and Mexican archives to be published in almost a hundred years, and it is credited with opening up the region to American immigration. According to Wheat, “This was an important map, for while it did not itself add to knowledge of the American West, it did put into the hands of the reading public the broad geographical relationship of the American Southwest with the dominions lying to the east.” A superb example of this cornerstone document of Western Americana.

Refs.: Katherine R. Goodwin, “The World in Your Hands: Recent Cartographic Acquisitions,” The Compass Rose, vol. XIV, no. 1 (Spring 2000); Philips, Atlases, 2682; Rumsey, list no. 0328.04; Sabin, 33756; Streeter, Bibliography of Texas, part III, vol. I, no. 1042; Wheat, Mapping the Transmississippi West, vol. I, pp. 137, no. 275.

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