Mitchell Africa 1881


W. Williams.  “Map of Africa, Showing Its Most Recent Discoveries.”  From New General Atlas.  Philadelphia: S. A. Mitchell, Jr., 1881.  10 1/2 x 13 1/2.  Lithograph.  Original hand-coloring.  Very good condition.

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An antique map of Africa by S. Augustus Mitchell, Jr.  For most of the middle part of the nineteenth century, the firm founded by S. Augustus Mitchell dominated American cartography in output and influence.  This fine map is from one of his son’s atlases issued in 1882.  It depicts as current geographical information as was available at the time, showing rivers, lakes, towns, trade routes and some orography.  Political divisions are clearly indicated, highlighted with contrasting colors, giving us an interesting picture of what Americans understood of the states of Africa.  The late nineteenth century was a period of great exploration throughout Africa and this map shows “its most recent discoveries.”  Of particular interest is the depiction the great inland lake system and other aspects of the African interior based on the European explorations of the 1850s to 1870s.  Still there is a large section noted as “Unknown Interior.”  A wonderful cartographic document from just over a century ago.