John Arrowsmith

John Arrowsmith

The Arrowsmiths were a cartographic dynasty which operated from the late-eighteenth century to the mid-nineteenth. The family business was founded by Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823), who was renowned for carefully prepared and meticulously updated maps, globes, and charts. He created many maps that covered multiple sheets and which were massive in total size. His spare yet exacting style was recognized around the world and mapmakers from other countries, especially the young country of the United States, sought his maps and charts as exemplars for their own work.

Aaron Arrowsmith was born in County Durham in 1750. He came to London for work around 1770, where he found employment as a surveyor for the city’s mapmakers. By 1790, he had set up his own shop which specialized in general charts. Arrowsmith had five premises in his career, most of which were located on or near Soho Square, a neighborhood the led him to rub shoulders with the likes of Joseph Banks, the naturalist, and Matthew Flinders, the hydrographer.

Through his business ties and employment at the Hydrographic Office, Arrowsmith made other important relationships with Alexander Dalrymple, the Hudson’s Bay Company, and others entities. In 1810 he became Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales and, in 1820, Hydrographer to the King.

Aaron Arrowsmith died in 1823, whereby the business and title of Hydrographer to the King passed to his sons, Aaron and Samuel, and, later, his nephew, John. Aaron Jr. (1802-1854) was a founder member of the Royal Geographical Society (RGS) and left the family business in 1832; instead, he enrolled at Oxford to study to become a minister. Samuel (1805-1839) joined Aaron as a partner in the business and they traded together until Aaron left for the ministry. Samuel died at age 34 in 1839; his brother presided over his funeral. The remaining stock and copper plates were bought at auction by John Arrowsmith, their cousin.

John (1790-1873) operated his own independent business after his uncle, Aaron Arrowsmith Sr., died. After 1839, John moved into the Soho premises of his uncle and cousins. John enjoyed considerable recognition in the geography and exploration community. Like Aaron Jr., John was a founder member of the RGS and would serve as its unofficial cartographer for 43 years. Several geographical features in Australia and Canada are named after him. He carried the title Hydrographer to Queen Victoria. He died in 1873 and the majority of his stock was eventually bought by Edward Stanford, who co-founded Stanford’s map shop, which is still open in Covent Garden, London today.


1840 - America

  • $14.99

A detailed map of America, by John Arrowsmith. The map shows the lands from "Russian America" to an unclaimed Patagonia, at a time when many parts of the continent were truly wild. Major cities, rivers, islands, lakes, and much more are all shown....


1840 - The World, On Mercator's Projection

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Detailed World Map Showing the Latest Polar Discoveries Scarce, fine world map with polar insets by the notable mapmaker John Arrowsmith. The map shows the latest polar discoveries by Scoresby, Parry, Franklin’s overland expeditions, and Kemp, among...


1842 - United States, By J. Arrowsmith

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Striking and highly detailed map of the Eastern United States, by one of England's foremost mapmakers of the period. Includes a massive territory named Northwest Territory or Huron and even larger Sioux region. Excellent detail in Florida, including...


1853 - Lower Canada, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Id., Newfoundland, and a large portion of the United States

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Scarce later state of this interesting large scale map of Eastern Canada and New England, published by John Arrowsmith in London. The map includes the area around the St. Lawrence River, along with New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Id., with a...


1842 - Upper Canada &c.

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Early state of John Arrowsmith's map of Upper Canada and the Eastern Great Lakes, including Lake Huron, Lake Erie and Lake, Ontario, with parts of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The present map is drawn directly from the work of James Chewett and...


1842 - West Indies

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Arrowsmith's London Atlas Map of the Florida, the West Indies & Central America Nice example of this fine map of Florida, the Caribbean and Central America, published in Arrowsmith's London Atlas. In Florida, the map notes the "Cape Florida...


1839 - The Coasts of Guatimala and Mexico from Panama to Cape Mendocino with the Principal Harbours in California 1839.

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Rare early map of Mexico and Upper California, focusing on the harbors along the California Coast. Includes some of the earliest harbor plans for: Santa Barbara San Gabriel or San Pedro San Diego San Francisco Monterrey Bodega Bay Rumsey...


1842 - Mexico (Republic of Texas!)

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Mexico & The Republic of Texas Striking example of Arrowsmith's Map of Mexico, from the London Atlas, including the Republic of Texas in its largest configuration. The map provides a fantastic example of the Republic of Texas in earliest Republic...


1859 - British North America. By Permission Dedicated to The Honble. Hudsons Bay Company; Containing the latest information which their documents furnish . . .

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Detailed Map of British Possessions in North America—Rare Late Edition! Highly-detailed state of John Arrowsmith’s map of British possessions in North America, published in multiple editions between 1832 and 1859. This is a late edition, from the...


1848 - Map of Jamaica Compiled Chiefly From Manuscripts in the Colonial Office and Admiralty By John Arrowsmith 1848.

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Detailed map of Jamaica, published in London by John Arrowsmith. The map is divided into three parishes, with fine details showing topography, towns, roads, rivers and other details. A smaller inset map at the bottom left corner.


1842 - Set of 4 Case Maps (Colombia; Peru & Bolivia; La Platea, The Banda Oriental Del Uruguay and Chile; and Brazil) (Admiral Sir. E.G. Fanshawe Copy in custom case)

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Fine set of 4 dissected maps of South American regions, in a custom slip case, formerly owned by Admiral Sir Edwin Gennys Fanshawe of the British Admiralty. E.G. Fanshawe is perhaps best remembered for a series of over 100 watercolors in the...


1842 - The Provinces of La Plata, The Banda Oriental Del Uruguay and Chile, Chiefly from M.S. documents communicated by Sir Woodbine Parish, K.C.H. Late H.M. Charge' d'Affairs &c at Buenos Ayres . . .

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Shows Darwin's expeditions during the second voyage of the Beagle. A highly detailed map of Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay, with an inset of Patagonia, published by John Arrowsmith, London's leading mid-19th century map maker. The map is...


1840 - Brazil, By J. Arrowsmith

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Brazil During The Regency of Emperor Pedro II A marvelous highly detailed map of Brazil, colored by regions, published in London by John Arrowsmith. The map shows more detail than any contemporary commercial atlas map of the region. This is the...


1839 - Map of British Guiana From the latest Surveys of Schomburgk, Owen, Hilhouse, & others; & Those of Hancock, Van-Cooten, Bouchenroeder, & Bercheyck . . . 1838.

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Scarce map of British Guiana, first published in 1838. The English made at least two unsuccessful attempts in the 17th century to colonize the lands that would later be known as British Guiana, at which time the Dutch had established two colonies in...


1834 - Peru & Boliva, By J. Arrowsmith

  • $14.99

A marvelous highly detailed map of Peru and Bolivia, colored by regions. Arrowsmith's map is perhaps the single most detailed atlas map of the period.