Copper-plate engraving with original hand-color
London, 1796 (with additions 1802)
Paper size: 49 1/2" by 57"
Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823) began his career as a surveyor in England. He honed his skills as an engraver while working on several maps that appeared in John Cary's popular Traveller's Companion. In 1790 Arrowsmith started his own map-publishing firm and quickly earned an international reputation for accuracy and fine engraving.
From 1795 to 1857 at least nineteen editions or revisions of Arrowsmith's map of North America were published by Aaron or his successors. Arrowsmith's map was the most comprehensive map of the western interior for its time. Geographic information about the American Northwest obtained by Fidler, Thompson, and other Hudson's Bay Company explorers remained restricted until the mid-I790's, when the company made its reports and maps available to the then established London mapmaker.
The 1802 revision of the map of North America delineates the complete length of the Missouri River as well as Mackenzie's journey to the Pacific in 1793. The depiction of the Missouri headwaters shows several streams joining into two branches of the Missouri which flow almost due east. The southern branch of the Missouri appears to be the main branch of the river and connects to the Knife River; the northern branch is a good representation of the actual course of the Missouri. Although the revised map still shows a single ridge of mountains in the west, a note near the southern sources of the Missouri states: "Hereabout the Mountains divide into several low Ridges." Arrowsmith's map situates the Great Lake River on the western slopes of the mountain range and connects this river to the Columbia River with a dotted line.
Both the 1795 and 1802 versions of Arrowsmith's map served as resources that Nicholas King consulted as he prepared his map for the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Lewis and Clark, in fact, carried the 1802 Arrowsmith map along on the expedition. Arrowsmith's map of North America was the most comprehensive map of the West available to Jefferson, and Lewis, and it was probably the most important map used in the planning of the expedition.
Offered at $125,000