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Antique map of The British Channel by John Thomson. 1814 - English Channel, England, France

1814 The British Channel

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By: John Thomson

Date: 1814 (Dated) Edinburgh

Dimensions: 20.5 x 25.5 inches (52.1 x 65 cm)

This handsome example of Thomson’s map of the British (English) Channel depicts England from Cornwall in the west all the way to Canterbury and the Straits of Dover in the east. It goes north as far as Pembroke Shire, Glamorgan and Monmouth Shire in the west and Middlesex and Surrey in the east. London and the mouth of the Thames are included. On the French side of the Channel, Grisnez at the northernmost coastal point to Goulet Harbour and Crazon at its southern most coastal point.

The coasts of both France and England are rendered in fine detail, with little information provided inland. The Channel islands of Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle of Wight and Alderney are depicted. The map extends beyond its borders in order to encompass the territories depicted, making the map especially attractive visually.

The Napoleonic Wars would end within a year of the publishing of this map. Throughout the time of the wars, the Channel provided a means of transporting English goods to mainland Europe and vice versa, and the coasts of each side were witness to countless instances of smuggling which enabled both sides to enjoy the results of war profiteering.

The map is engraved in the minimalist English style pioneered in the early part of the 19th century, a style which reduced maps’ decorative elements to a minimum. Relief is shown by hachure with towns, cities, and major topographical features all identified. This spectacular map is printed on heavy paper and has ample margins.

John Thomson (1777 - 1841) was a Scottish cartographer, publisher, and bookbinder active in Edinburgh during the early part of the 19th century. Thomson apprenticed under Edinburgh bookbinder Robert Alison. Thomson was one of the leading publishers in the Edinburgh school of cartography, which flourished in the early decades of the 19th century. Thomson and his contemporaries (Pinkerton and Cary) redefined European cartography by abandoning typical 18th century decorative elements such as elaborate title cartouches and fantastic beasts in favor of detail and accuracy.

Condition: This map is in A- condition. A centerfold separation has been repaired with archival material in the lower portion of the map. Minor offsetting. Original color.

Inventory #11932

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