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Aaron Arrowsmith (1750-1823)
“Easily the foremost cartographer of his time” (Tooley)
The Arrowsmiths were the leading British map publishers in the early 19th century founded by Aaron Arrowsmith. Born into an impoverished family at Winston, Durham on 14 July 1750. He came to London about 1770 and although self-taught he established himself as a land surveyor and began working for other publishers such as Faden and Cary. In 1790 he set up his own establishment in Castle Street, Long Acre as a publisher and engraver. His first production was A Chart of the World on Mercator’s Projection, Showing all the New Discoveries. This was published on 1st April 1790 and fore-shadowed the direction of his contribution to geography. He was to concentrate his considerable energies on the production of large scale general charts, recording the latest geographical discoveries.
His maps were sold in single sheets or collections but not in published atlas format and were constantly revised. He was Hydrographer to the Prince of Wales from about 1810 and subsequently to George IV. Arrowsmith incorporated the material of important contemporary explorers such as Bass, Flinders and Colnett, as well as a diversity of independent art travellers who sent him their manuscripts or information for inclusion in his maps. He received assistance from Dalrymple, Rennell, the Hudson Bay Company, the Ordance Office and the East India Company.
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