Maps of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge Volumes I & II
By: Chapman and Hall
Date: 1844 (dated) London
Dimensions: 16.5 x 14 x 2.5 inches (42 x 35.5 x 6.5 cm)
A superb example of one of the most detailed and complete cartographic atlases of the 19th century. Compiled for the Society of the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, the atlas does not include any pages of descriptive text or statistics, but instead is completely comprised of maps detailing every continent, country, in the world as well as fifty maps city maps. There are a grand total of 218 maps between the two volumes which have been bound into one complete atlas.
Volume I of the atlas begins with twelve world maps laid on Double Hemisphere, Mercator, and regional Gnomonic Projections before delving into maps of Europe, the Middle East, and all of Asia. Highlights in this volume include a geologic map of England, ancient and modern maps of Italy, Asia Minor, and Syria, twelve regional maps of India and an attractive map of the Malayan Archipelago.
Volume II begins thirteen maps of the Africa (far more that other contemporary atlases) before moving into maps of the United States. At the time of printing, the United States was well into an interesting time of westward expansion, post the expeditions of Lewis & Clark and Zebulon Pike, but prior to the outbreak of the civil war and the construction of the transcontinental railroad. For all intents and purposes, the westward expanse of the country was just beyond the Mississippi River and into the Oregon Territory. Texas had recently won its independence from Mexico but had yet to join the union, providing us with a well sought-after map of Texas as a Republic in its largest form to include Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and the southern portion of present-day Colorado.
Volume II then moves onto maps of the Caribbean, Central and South America, the Pacific and its islands, New Zealand, and Australia, including a great map of New South Wales with a rare and early inset map of Sydney. Much of Volume II is comprised of city maps, which are arguably the best city maps of any 19th century atlas based on their accuracy, information provided with regards to important places, buildings, and monuments, and the numerous illustrated views worked into the empty spaces of many maps. Highlights include a beautiful map of Amsterdam, Constantinople, Bordeaux, Boston, Dublin, Edinburgh, Moscow, Munich, New York, St. Peterburg, and Warsaw. There are also some great double page maps of London, Paris, and Venice. Volume II concludes with six-star maps covering all the known constellations of the mid-19th century.
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (SDUK) was founded in 1826, with the primary object of publishing information to people who were unable to obtain formal teaching, or who preferred self-study. Their publications such as this atlas publications were intended for the working and middle-class population, as an alternative to the more highbrow and scholarly presses.
Condition: This Atlas is in A condition with a vibrant original outline coloring and only a few areas of toning and/or soiling to the maps. Edges and corners and the spine are well intact and in very fine condition.
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