Schoolboy map of the world with American eagle and shield

George A. Knight, The World. NP, ND but ca. 1850.
Manuscript in ink, watercolor and colored pencil on Bristol Board, 18”h x 22 ¼”w at sheet edge.

A lovely and accomplished schoolboy map with delicately rendered patriotic imagery.

In the 18th and 19th centuries map drawing was an important method of geographic education at the primary level, and “schoolboy” and “schoolgirl” maps are frequently encountered on the market.  The great majority are unadorned and relatively pedestrian, but this example by George A. Knight is exceptional.

Knight’s world map is projected on a double hemisphere, with the continents in outline color and major topographical and riverine features carefully delineated. Though undated, the style and the intermediate status of the Antarctic geography (including Victoria Land, discovered by Ross in 1841) suggest a mid-19th century date.

The map is adorned with unusual care and delicacy. At top center is a well-executed American eagle, bearing in its talons an olive branch, arrows and the shield of the United States in red, white and blue. From its beak hangs a swag with the phrase “E pluribus Unum.” Surrounding the whole is a repeating foliate border, interrupted by the cardinal directions and featuring horns of plenty at the corners.


Gently toned and a few minor repairs along lower edge, but about excellent for a genre of maps often found in parlous condition.