An attractive linen printing of an unrecorded map of the Western Hemisphere, likely dating to the end of the 18th century.
The map depicts the Western Hemisphere on a stereographic projection, centered on a point in the Pacific just south of Guadalajara, Mexico. National and colonial boundaries are indicated, as are the tracks of voyages by Anson, Cook, Wallis and others, the latest date given being the death of Cook at Hawaii in 1779. Text notes in the left-side spandrels provide a variety of basic geographical and astronomical statistics. The substantial size; the use of ochre ink; and nice decorative touches such as the “American” and “Asiatic” figures in the right-side spandrels, calligraphic flourishes in the left-side spandrels, and the border of repeating stars all combine to give the textile a most pleasing appearance.
The circumstances of the map’s production can only be inferred. It bears neither an engraver’s or publisher’s imprint but is probably of British origin, as most such textiles were printed there at the turn of the 19th century. It also bears no date, but the mention of Cook’s death and the naming of the “United States” suggest that it was printed after 1780. I have been unable to identify a particular prototype, though it was almost certainly a double-hemisphere world map printed in London. Numerous maps of the sort were issued in the period, many bearing the subtitles “Western Hemisphere or New World” and “Eastern Hemisphere or Old World,” or some variants thereof. However, of those I have examined, none matches exactly the title, voyage tracks, place names, and/or decorative figures of the textile offered here.
In all a great rarity, unusual for being a linen printing and raising a number of intriguing questions.
Not in COPAC, OCLC or Threads of History.
Somewhat toned, likely from an old acidic backing, else excellent.