“Map of Oceanica, Exhibiting its Various Divisions, Island Groups &c.” From New General Atlas. Philadelphia: S.A. Mitchell, Jr., 1882. 10 3/4 x 13 1/4. Lithograph. Original hand-color. Very good condition.
A crisp map of the Pacific, including an inset of the “Sandwich Islands,” by one of the leading American cartographic firms of the mid-nineteenth century. Mitchell’s maps are usually quite attractive, with their decorative border and bright hand-color, and this map is a good example of that. The islands are surrounded by circular lines like ripples from a stone in water, and while this has no cartographic meaning, it does lend an aesthetic flair to the map, which is quite appealing. Mitchell shows most of the larger islands of the ocean, and separates them into major groups, i.e. Malaysia, Polynesia, and Australasia. Because most of the smaller islands are not indicated, Mitchell avoids many of the non-existent ones that appear in other maps of the period. However, two of the most famous non-existent islands, Rica de Plata and Rica d’Oro, are shown to the east of Japan. These islands, the Islands of Silver and Gold, were said to be located between Japan and California. The first rumor of their existence was reported by Spanish pilot Francisco Gali in 1582, and from that date until into the eighteenth century there was a succession of unsuccessful searches for these islands. By the nineteenth century their existence was generally doubted, but they continued to appear on many maps, including this one. Also mapped is Anson’s Archipelago, made up entirely of legendary or mis-placed islands including Volcano, La Mira, and Sebastian Lobos.