Copper engraving, 52 x 64 cms, engraved by John and George Menzies, original hand-colour, trivial spotting and staining,. Major caravan routes are depicted, with detailed information about fresh and bitter water. Thomson has also supplied a wealth of general geographical notes, for example that the horn of Africa is ‘myrrh and incense country’, and he has marked the track of the French frigate Venus, which charted the Red Sea in the 1780s.
Thomson made his fortune through his extremely successful New General Atlas, but in the 1820s he bankrupted himself, twice (in the process of creating his large-scale Atlas of Scotland in a burst of patriotic pride) and he disappears from the historical record. Thomson’s maps are characteristic of the Edinburgh school of cartography which flourished at the beginning of the nineteenth-century and is noted for its clarity and elegance; other exponents include John Cary and John Pinkerton.