Steel engraving, 32 x 39.5 cm, engraved by John & Charles Walker, original hand colour, numbered in an old hand, blank verso.
The left hand map covers the western Australian coastline between Perth and Albany, with the existing administrative divisions and geographical information derived from surveys sent to the Colonial Office (‘good soil; very fine country; high hills in ths direction’). Tasmania, then known as Van Dieman’s Land, was the principal penal colony in Australia until the abolition of transportation in 1853. By the early 1830s there were approximately 25,000 colonists and 36 small counties had been established, although the maps notes that they are ‘too minute’ to be shown on this scale. Later editions were revised and updated.
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.