By: William Guthrie
Date: 1784 (circa) London
Dimensions: 12 x 14 inches (30.5 x 35.5 cm)
This map of Africa by William Guthrie is, for its day, quite detailed in its depiction of the interior of the continent and is divided into countries, kingdoms and colonies. Though there is erroneous information, there is much of interest, including an ominous warning of men eaters north of Lake Zambre, where Dr. Livingston would search for the source of the Nile less than a century later.
The small island of Zanzibar off the east coast of the continent was often used as a starting point for exploratory expeditions to the eastern regions of what was commonly called the Dark Continent. Directly to the west of the island and north of Lake Zambre are some interesting notations, including reference to cannibalism in the Latin term ‘Anthropophagi’, clarified by Guthrie as ‘Men Eaters’. Even in the mid-19th century, maps of the interior of Africa were often either left blank or filled with speculation regarding myriad regions, rather than established knowledge. While the geographical outline of the continent had been mapped fairly accurately for hundreds of years, legend and speculation played no small part in the mapping of its interior for centuries.
William Guthrie was a Scotsman who studied at Aberdeen University with the intent of becoming a schoolmaster. After finishing his education, however, he moved to London where he determined to become a writer. Among his first work was covering Parliament for a periodical called The Gentleman’s Magazine, and he soon had a solid reputation as a writer capable of describing political debates and other similar issues. He went on to write a number of academic works, including an interesting compilation of history in four volumes entitled The History of England from Julius Caesar to 1688, and an atlas which he called Geographical, Historical and Commercial Grammar. Other topics he addressed included religion and philosophy.
Condition: Map is in B+ condition with some discoloration along the centerfold. Margins are full on all sides, and the map presents well with a dark impression on clean paper.
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