15 July 2005
AARON ARROWSMITH (1750-1823)
Chart of the East India Islands exhibiting the several passages between the Indian and Pacific oceans ... additions to 1812. London: 1800 [but 1812]. Engraved four-sheet wallmap of Southeast Asian archipelago, each sheet 660 x 990mm. Title set at upper left sheet, graticuled border, grid at one degree intervals, numerous coastal soundings, wind directions, shoals indicated, with details of the best clipper routes to China at various months of the year, the routes of various English navigators marked. (Old crease marks along folds, left margin of southeastern sheet slightly soiled.) Window mounts.
An impressive four sheet chart of the navigation routes through the southeast Asian archipelago to China and the Philippines. Arrowsmith was a very inventive and accurate mapmaker. This wallmap may have been commissioned specifically for an Asian trading company and was certainly aimed at English captains and companies trading to China and southeast Asia. The detail on depth soundings, winds, obstructions and general accuracy is a trademark of Arrowsmith's fine work. Arrowsmith came from Durham to London in 1770 and was employed by both Faden and John Cary. In 1790, he set up on his own and made his reputation with his 8 sheet world map on Mercator's projection, 1790. It was not until the end of the 19th century that the Hydrographical office of the Royal Navy sent its surveying ships Sulphur, Samarang, Herald and others to the region that accurate nautical charts became available. (4)
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