2009 Winter Catalog, William R. Talbot Fine Art, Antique Maps & Prints Home

2009 Winter Catalog > 5. Arrowsmith, “Map of Texas.



5. The Seminal Map of the Republic of Texas.

John Arrowsmith. “Map of Texas Compiled from Surveys Recorded in the Land Office of Texas and Other Official Surveys by John Arrowsmith” (London: John Arrowsmith, 1843 [1841]). Published in Arrowsmith’s London Atlas. Copper-engraved map, with bright original outline hand color. 24 1/4 x 19 5/8" at neat line. Sheet: 26 3/4 x 21 3/4" with full margins and original index tab cut-outs in u.l. and l.l. margins. Untitled inset map at l.r. showing Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and western United States and its territories. Inset map lower left, “Plan of Galveston Bay from a M.S.” Minor crease at u.r. corner, mainly marginal; very minor marginal tear at u.l.; very minor marginal creasing at left edge; very faint, occasional transference. A fine, dark and crisp impression, very bright and clean, and wonderfully preserved—overall an exceptional example in superb condition.

Price: SOLD.

The British cartographer John Arrowsmith first issued his Map of Texas in 1841 in his famous London Atlas. The map also appeared in William Kennedy’s book The Rise, Progress and Prospects of the Republic of Texas in the same year. Arrowsmith again published the Texas map in his 1843 atlas, as in the present example. The map immediately became the model for maps of the new republic and was copied extensively by other publishers. And while Texas was annexed to the United States in 1845 and the Compromise of 1850 reset the boundaries of Texas to their current configuration, maps of Texas with its Republic boundaries continued to be published, and even appeared in the London Atlas as late as 1858.

When it was issued, Arrowsmith’s Map of Texas contained the most up-to-date depiction of the latest political divisions. In addition, four years of study by the General Land Office of Texas provided Arrowsmith with the latest information on geographical features, roadways, and the location of Indian tribes. The seals of the Republic of Texas and the General Land Office of Texas appear beneath the title in the upper right corner, attesting to the validity of its sources. Below those, a statement indicates that Texas was “Recognized as an Independent State by Great Britain, 16th Nov.r 1840.” At the time, Great Britain actively sought to establish a source for cotton in an independent Texas, and so opposed its annexation to the United States. To this end, British negotiators attempted to draw a treaty with Texas, France, and Mexico while the United States debated the issue of Texas’ admission to the union. Arrowsmith’s map stands as an endorsement of the most extensive territorial claims made by the Republic of Texas.

Arrowsmith’s map was probably the first to show the full extent of Texas’s claim to the region of the upper Rio Grande, an area included within Texas’s boundaries until the Compromise of 1850. . . The popularity and general acceptance of the map has been documented by the fact that many map makers copied liberally from Arrowsmith’s map, including some of its errors. For example, a number of later maps continued Arrowsmith’s statement printed on the western, arid region of Texas that “this tract of Country explored by LeGrande in 1833 is naturally fertile well wooded & with a fair proportion of water.” (Martin and Martin)

Editorial comments throughout the map reveal its intention to encourage development with phrases such as “good land,” “rich land well timbered,” “beautiful prairie,” and “valuable land.” A forest shown below the Red River is Lower Cross Timbers, which was considered in 1834 by the U.S. Government to be the “western boundary of habitable land.”

The London Arrowsmith firm was founded in 1790 by John’s uncle Aaron, an important map maker and official hydrographer to the king. During the early nineteenth century, London emerged as a leader in commerce, as well as cartographic production. The Arrowsmiths set the standard for accuracy and clarity in map making, applying the latest scientific techniques, and issuing some of the finest cartographic publications of the period. The present map represents the height of the Arrowsmith production and is an important document of Republic-era Texas history.

Refs.: Amon Carter Museum, Crossroads of Empire, p. 35; Goss, Mapping, no. 75; Martin and Martin, pl. 32, pp. 55, 127; Phillips, America, p. 843; Phillips, Atlases, no. 789; Phillips, Maps, p. 843; Rumsey no. 4613.061; Streeter, Texas, 1373a; Taliaferro, p. 15; Wheat, p. 173-74, no. 451.

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