A Map of the World in Three Sections Describing the Polar Regions to the Tropics...
Published 1793, Philadelphia
Size: 16.6" X 9.3"
A rare world map in three sections that appeared in the scarce first American edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica that was published between 1789 and 1798. The map is interesting as it depicts the world with two polar projections as well as a cylindrical projection in the bottom section.
The polar projection of the antarctic depicts, interestingly, no land mass at the South Pole, but rather, marks the routes of Captain James Cook in his exploration voyages aboard the Resolution and the Adventure in search of the mythical Southern Continent in 1772-75.
The polar projection of the arctic, for its part, depicts the tract of the polar exploration in 1771 aboard the Racehorse and the Carcass by Captain John Phipps’, who would later become Lord Mulgrave and a Lord of the Admiralty.
The cylindrical projection, on the other hand, depicts the Torrid zone and Tropical regions of the Pacific Ocean with the newly discovered lands that were missed in the two polar projections.
The focus of the map are thus the discoveries made by James Cook in the South Sea prior to his famous third voyage to the Pacific Northwest and the unsuccessful attempt by Phipps to reach the North Pole. Polar explorations and discoveries in the Pacific, such as those depicted, were of concern not only to the admiralty and commercial interests of the day, but were also of interest to the general public. The Encyclopedia Britannica thus offered one of the best ways by which the public received information on a multitude of subject matters, such as these famous voyage of explorations during the age of Enlightenment.
The map would have first appeared in the second edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica with Andrew Bell as the engraver, published between 1777-1784. It was further published in the third edition, published in 1788-1797, and then reprinted by Thomas Dobson in the first American edition in 1793. The present example is from the rare first American edition which can be ascertained by the signature of William Barker, as opposed to Andrew Bell, at the bottom right hand corner. Future editions would be updated with information pertaining to Cook’s third voyage and can be further differentiated by the different cartouches.
The map is thus interesting not only for its rarity in its inclusion into to the rare American edition, but also because the map provides multiple view points and projections to contemplate an ever changing world resulting from explorations during the Age of Reason.