John Cary. “A New Map of Africa, from the Latest Surveys.”


John Cary. “A New Map of Africa, from the Latest Surveys.” London: J. Cary, 1805. 18 1/2 x 20 7/8. Original outline coloring. Light creasing and light smudges at center. Short tear at lower centerfold. Otherwise, very good condition.

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This map was drawn, engraved and published by John Cary (fl 1769-1836) in London for the 1805 edition of his New Universal Atlas. Amidst the turmoil of the Napoleonic wars, British naval power was rising, and mapmaking as an art and science kept pace. Cary used existing maps and new surveys to provide his clients with the most up-to-date information on all parts of the world. Inaccuracies might be evident, but they reflect the state of knowledge in western Europe when they were made. The northern parts of the continent show much information along the rivers, and trade routes. A non-existent mountain chain stretches across the continent; the eastern half of this range, “Mountains of the Moon,” are a remnant of the Ptolemaic conception of Africa; the western half “The Mountains of Kong” were the result of a mistake by cartographer John Rennel in 1798. This map was the first to show the “Mountains of Kong” and the “Mountains of the Moon” as part of the same giant mountain range, a feature which would remain on maps of Africa until the 1850s. The southern half of the continent has information mostly along the coasts where traders and European settlements had been made. The interior of the south is mostly blank, “Unknown Parts,” though Lake Maravi, an early reflection of the interior lakes, is shown. Attractive, with interesting information and absence of information, this is an excellent map of Africa from the beginning of the nineteenth century.