Steel engraving, 34 x 40.5 cm, engraved by John and Charles Walker, original hand colour, numbered in an old hand, blank verso.
This map shows Texas as an independent republic, as it existed between 1836-1846, contemporary with the SDUK’s mapping project. There is also significant detail of the Rocky Mountains and Upper California, which became part of the US following the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. However, while knowledge of Texas was sufficient to show the developing road network, the open spaces of ‘California’ (subsequently divided into half a dozen US States) are filled with a variety of speculative historical and geographical annotations. Chapman & Hall superseded Baldwin & Craddock as publishers to the Society and this map first appeared under their imprint, dated 1842; later editions of this map appeared under the imprint of Charles Knight and are undated, as here.
The Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge was founded in 1826 with the high-minded aim of making ‘useful’ information available to self-taught members of the working and lower middle classes. Some of the material was decidedly abstruse, subscribers fell away and the Society was wound up in 1848; however, the series of 209 maps published over a 14 year period from 1829 onwards were highly praised for their superior quality, accuracy and aesthetic appeal and remain an outstanding achievement.