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Arrowsmith's chart of Hawaii - the property of a New Bedford whaler

Chart of the Sandwich Islands Compiled from various documents, M.S. and printed
A. & S. Arrowsmith, 2nd March,
Publication place
Publication date
670 by 870mm (26.5 by 34.25 inches).


Large engraved chart (625 by 795mm to the neatline, full margins showing the plate mark), trimmed with linen.


Published by the sons of Aaron Arrowsmith, this is a detailed chart of the Hawaiian Islands, with insets of Hanarura, or Fair Haven, in the Island of Woahoo; The Anchorage at Raheina, in the Island of Mowee; and Karakakooa Bay (where Captain Cook had been killed) which shows tidal variations for 1825. Showing the tracks of Captain James Cook, before and after his death in 1778 and 1779, and Vancouver's voyages of 1798, it is clear that these two explorers are the main source of information for the map. Cook's chart, which was eventually published in the official account of his third voyage, after his death in 1785, 'Chart of the Sandwich Islands' with 'Sketch of Karakakooa Bay', includes information supplied by Henry Roberts and William Bligh. Vancouver's 'A Chart of the Sandwich Islands' was prepared by Joseph Bake. The Arrowsmiths also consulted more recent surveys, probably including: those of Urey Lisiansky, for whose 'A Voyage Round the World: In the Years 1803, 4, 5, & 6' (1814) Aaron Arrowsmith had created eight engraved charts; Louis Choris' 'Voyage Pittoresque Autour de Monde' (1822-1823); and Otto von Kotzebue's 'Entdeckungs-Reise in die Süd-See und nach der Berings-Strasse' (1821); as well as the earlier Pacific voyages of great French explorers, such as Laperouse, and Dumont d'Urville.

The earliest example of the Arrowsmith map of Hawaii that we can find is held at the library of the University of Amsterdam, dated 1826. Other editions reside with the Royal Geographical Society (1832), and with the British Library (1840). It is interesting that in 1825 John William Norie published 'A New Chart of The Pacific Ocean' which included large insets of Hawaii, Honolulu, and Karakakooa Bay, very similar to those of Arrowsmith's map. He acknowledges rather vague sources: "according to the most Approved and Modern Surveys", but they were absent from his earlier map of the Pacific, dated 1820. 

This example of the Arrowsmith chart of the Sandwich Islands was purchased by master whaler Francis Post of New Bedford in 1832, along with a handful of others published by Arrowsmith, just prior to setting sail for a whaling voyage that would take him away from home for four years and across two oceans; testament to the reputation of accuracy and reliability which pertained to Arrowsmith maps.

Aaron Arrowsmith the younger (1802–1854), and his brother Samuel (1805-1839) were trained by their father Aaron, one of the finest cartographers of his generation. They printed maps from their father's plates as well as producing their own. Like his father before him, Aaron became hydrographer to the king, and he was a founder fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1830. However, he soon tired of the business, and took holy orders. Samuel continued without him. He was elected fellow of the Royal Geographical Society in 1832 and was also appointed hydrographer to the king. Samuel ran the business until his death in 1839, when it passed into the hands of his cousin John.

Rare. We can find no other records of an example of this edition to sell publicly; OCLC records no institutional examples.


1. Frances Post (1808-1859), inscribed on the verso of the map "Sandwich Islands, $2.25, Francis Post June 1832". Francis Post was a nineteenth century whaling master out of New Bedford, Mass. Aboard the Huntress between 13th August 1832 and 13th March 1836 he voyaged the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, purchasing this map for $2.25 just two months before sailing. His Log-book of the journey is held at the Bedford Whaling Museum, and gives accounts of the Coast of Brazil, "On shore", Japan, Hawaiian Islands, Coast of Chile, "On the Line", Tonga Islands, French Rock, and False Banks whaling grounds. His correspondence is housed in the Dartmouth Historical Society Library.


Gary L. Fitzpatrick with Riley M. Moffat, The Early Mapping of Hawaii (London: Kegan Paul International, 1987).