One of the first charts to show Cook’s discoveries

By ARROWSMITH, Aaron, 1798 

Reduced Chart of the Pacific Ocean from the one published in Nine Sheets by A. Arrowsmith.

Australasia & the Pacific Pacific
  • Author: ARROWSMITH, Aaron
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Published A. Arrowsmith No.24 Rathbone Place
  • Publication date: October, 1st, 1798.
  • Physical description: Engraved chart, with fine original full-wash colour.
  • Dimensions: 640 by 820mm (25.25 by 32.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 11886


Rare reduction of Arrowsmith’s nine sheet chart of the Pacific Ocean.

One of the first charts of the Pacific to chart the discoveries of Captain Cook. All three of Cook’s voyages are marked, as is his death on Hawaii. Two unmarked tracks are shown from Java to Tasmania (Van Diemans Land); neither of which are marked on the examples housed in the Library of Congress or the National Library of Australia. The chart is divided into three coloured zones: pink for the eastern Pacific; green from latitude 15o south, covering Australia and New Zealand; and a small blue box from east of the Celebes to the international date line, and north to just above the equator. Although it is unclear why the chart is so coloured, it is possible that the green and blue areas mark out British and French spheres of influence, at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Aaron Arrowsmith (1750–1823) was the finest cartographer of his generation. Although he received little formal education it is believed that he was taught some mathematical instruction by William Emerson, an author of several books on the application of mathematics to the area of cartography. Around 1770, Arrowsmith moved to London to seek employment. It is believed that he worked for William Faden before joining John Cary Sr. in the early 1780s. There he provided the measurements for John Cary’s early publication detailing the roads from London to Falmouth, his first signed work. Arrowsmith set up on his own in 1790 and over the next thirty years produced some of the most beautiful and elegant maps of the era.

We have only been able to trace two copies of this edition of the map with the two unmarked tracks: Bibliothèque nationale de France, and the British Library.