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[America] Alcedo and Thompson, The Geographical and Historical Dictionary of America and the West Indies Containing An Entire Translation of the Spanish Work of Colonel Don Antonio De Alcedo, Captain of the Royal Spanish Guards, and Member of the Royal Academy of History: With Large Additions and Compilations From Modern Voyages and Travels, and From Original and Authentic Information. By G.A. Thompson, Esq. In Five Volumes... London, 1812 [-1815]. 4to. Five volumes. Half sheep with marbled boards, gilt fillets, raised bands, gilt-decorated spines with gilt titles. Marbled endpapers and edges. First edition in English. V. 1: xx, 574 pp., 2 pp. advertisements, half-title. Subscriber list inserted before title; V. 2: 597, [1] pp. 2 pp. of advertisements, half-title; V 3: 512 pp, half-title. Foxing to pp. 88 - 103; V 4: 636 pp, [4] pp advertisements, half-title [published 1814]. Foxing to pp. 542 - 554; V. 5: xlii, 462, [5], 4-105 pp., half-title [published 1815]. Folding table opp. p. 272. Foxing to Appendix pp. 32 - 41. Accession label attached to upper left corner of each volume's front paste-down. See also Princeton University Library, Selected Papers of George Alexander Thompson...Finding Aid.


Arrowsmith, Atlas to Thompson's Alcedo, or, Dictionary of America and the West Indies; Collated with all the most Recent Authorities and Composed chiefly from Scarce and Original Documents for that Work. London, 1815. Large folio. Five large folding engraved maps, colored in outline, on 19 sheets. The following label is pasted on the verso of the first prelim: Atlas To Thompson's Alcedo, or Dictionary of America and West Indies by Arrowsmith. Index [Five diagrams of sheet placement]... N.B. The Arabic Figures denote the Number of Sheets into which the Maps are divided, and the Roman Figures the order in which they are bound up. The Whole Squares represent what would be the Position of the Sheets if made into one entire Map. Three-quarter calf with brown boards and gilt fillets, gilt-decorated spine, black leather label with gilt title, marbled endpapers. Hinges and edges worn. "Copies are sometimes found with an atlas of 19 large maps by Arrowsmith, but they are rare." Sabin 683. SOLD

Spanish Army officer Antonio de Alcedo (1735-1812) wrote a geographical and historical dictionary of Spain's New World possessions (Madrid, 1786-1789, 5 vols). George Alexander Thompson was a British functionary who had been encouraged to pursue his scholarly interests by a member of the influential Vansittart family to whom he was related by marriage. The dedicatee of the Dictionary is Nicholas Vansittart, First Baron Bexley, Secretary of the Treasury 1806-07 and Chancellor of the Exchequer 1812 - 1822. Thompson's dedication lavishly praises Lord Bexley lavishly, unusually so even for an age when obsequiousness before persons of high rank was expected.

According to Thompson's preface (volume V) he became interested in Spain's American possessions and thus in Alcedo's dictionary after Bonaparte invaded Spain in 1808. Thompson states the 1787 Madrid edition was suppressed. Only a handful of copies could be found in Britain and "endeavours to procure any from the continent have always been unsuccessful, even when attempted by official pursuit, and at unlimited expense." (Covert action?) Thompson began work on the translation only a few months after starting to learn Spanish. His connections and the difficulty of accessing the original text suggest the translation had, at a minimum, the unofficial blessing of the British government.

Thompson's translation adds information from many sources, increasing its usefulness. It is accompanied by Arrowsmith's often missing atlas of five oversize American maps (19 sheets total). Britain's leading mapmaker, Arrowsmith was respected for his accuracy and careful use of sources. His best-known works are large multi-sheet maps which were frequently updated. They were usually published as separates and are now scarce. The atlas' maps are:

One. A Map Exhibiting all the New Discoveries, in the Interior Parts of North America, Inscribed by Permission To the Honourable Governor and Company of Adventurers of England Trading into Hudsons Bay In Testimony of their liberal Communications To their most Obedient and very Humble Servant, A. Arrowsmith Hydrographer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales, No. 10 Soho Square. January 1st, 1795. Additions to 1811. Additions to June 1814. [lower border] London. Published 1 Jan. 1795 by A. Arrowsmith No. 10 Soho Square...Additions to 1802. [3 sheets approximately 55" x 48" if joined.] Original outline color. Toning, transference. Published the same year as Lewis and Clark's official report, this is Arrowsmith's first map to incorporate information from the Lewis and Clark expedition, as well as from Pike and others. "...the upper Columbia is shown much better than by Lewis and Clark, who had not seen it..." Wheat. Stevens & Tree 48(f); Wheat, Trans-Miss. 313.

Two. A Map of the United States of North America Drawn from a number of Critical Researches By A. Arrowsmith, Hydrographer to H.R.H the Prince of Wales. No. 10 Soho Square. [lower border] London. Published as the Act directs by A. Arrowsmith, No. 10 Soho Square. Jan. 1st, 1796... Additions to 1802. 1815. [4 sheets 48" x 55" if joined.] Original outline color. The paper is watermarked "J. Whatman 1811." The U.S. west to the Missouri River. Large cartouche of Niagara Falls. Karpinski CXVa; Stevens & Tree 79(f).

Three. A New Map of Mexico and Adjacent Provinces Compiled from Original Documents by A. Arrowsmith 1810. [lower border] London. Published 5th. October 1810 by A. Arrowsmith No. 10 Soho Square. [4 sheets 62" x 51" if joined.]. Original outline color. Large inset Valley of Mexico from Mr. Humboldt's Map. Also insets of Acapulco and of Veracruz. The finest cartographic synthesis of its time for Mexico and the southwestern United States, including Texas. Arrowsmith carefully edited material from Pike, Humboldt and, on the west coast, Vancouver and the Hudson's Bay Company. Martin & Martin 25; Phillips, Maps, p. 408; Wheat 295.

Four. Chart of the West Indies and Spanish Dominions in North America. By A. Arrowsmith. 1803. Hydrographer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Additions to 1810.--1815. [lower border] London Published 1st June 1803. by A. Arrowsmith No. 10 Soho Square. [2 sheets 47" x 75" if joined.] Original outline color. Toned; transference. This edition not recorded by Phillips, Stevens & Tree or Tooley. Phillips, Maps, p. 1061 (1811 edn.); Stevens & Tree 89 (1803 & 1810 edns.); Tooley, MCCS 68: Printed Maps of America #188 (1817 edn.)

Five. Outlines of the Physical and Political Divisions of South America: Delineated by A. Arrowsmith Partly from Scarce and Original Documents, Published Before the Year 1806 but principally from Manuscript Maps & Surveys made between the years 1771 and 1806, corrected from accurate astronomical observations to 1810. London. Published 4th. January 1811 by A. Arrowsmith No. 10 Soho Square, Hydrographer to H.R.H. the Prince of Wales. Additions to 1814. [6 sheets 94" x 78" if joined.] Original outline color. Transference, toning. Stevens & Tree 77(b). Large inset showing Patagonia, Strait of Magellan, Tierra del Fuego.

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