Map Summary Discoveries in Western Australia

Herbert (1989, p.102) points out that of the fifty plates in Arrowsmith's London Atlas at its first issue this is a late addition, the only one with the date 'May 31st 1833', although there were later inclusions than this carrying the date 1834. Herbert tells us that when Arrowsmith realised he was not going to be able to release his atlas in 1832 as he had planned he decided to insert more plates. The Discoveries in Western Australia plate of 1833 (plate 36) was one of these. It was inserted before the plate on Van Diemens Land of 1832, which was the original plate '36'. The Van Diemens Land plate thus became plate '37'. The map in most of its issues bears a dedication to 'R.W. Hay One of the Under Secretaries of State for the Colonies' to whom one must surmise that John Arrowsmith had an obligation for making him privy to information held in the Colonial Office files.

The plate appears to have been produced expressly for the Atlas but it is later used in a Parliamentary Report for the year 1838 with the changes noted in state 1838/1. This map is also found issued together with another two maps on one sheet. The two plates have been placed side by side and printed on to one sheet. In this format the map measures 50.0 x 61.5 cm and 28.5 x 31.0 cm. and 22.5 x 31.0 cm. on a sheet 54.0 x 94.0 cm. Two plates appear to have been used and the left neat line of the Discoveries map cut off where the maps abut. Without the addition of the second map this exemplar is the same as the second state described. Only these issues shown below have been found.

Seven states have been distinguished. This map shows the area in the extreme south-west of the continent south of Perth, at a scale of almost 1:1 000 000. It had five inset maps on the left hand side of the main map. These were for the towns of Guildford, Augusta, Kelmscott, Perth and Fremantle. Then in a later state a sixth inset of the Perth region was added centre right.

The Discoveries plate had a life of six years during which time no change was made to the internal information on the map. Only the imprint was updated as time passed and finally in 1838 the map was used in a Parliamentary Report2. The original dedication to R.W. Hay was erased as was the plate number (although the latter not very effectively as on some copies this can still be discerned). A second imprint statement appears beneath the bottom neat line showing it was printed for parliamentary use. An additional marginal title appears top right outside the neat-line which reads Statistical Report on Western Australia 1837.

The Discoveries title also appears combined with two charts of Cockburn Sound and King Georges Sound on one sheet previously referred to above.

This is one of those plates that illustrates the confusion which characterises early printings of Arrowsmith's plates. He moved premises from 33 East Street to 35 Essex Street some time in 1834 one would surmise, but yet issues have been found with the address of 35 Essex Street issued in May 1833. It is suggested that he omitted to alter the date of these particular exemplars. Is any case, it didn't really matter as there was no change to the internal content.

So why did Arrowsmith lose interest in his original map of Western Australia? One possibility is that he realized early on that he had not allowed sufficient space on the plate to permit a northward as well as an eastward extension of the map.

Published resources

Journal Articles

  • Herbert, Francis, 'The 'London Atlas of Universal Geography' from John Arrowsmith to Edward Stanford: Origin, Development and Dissolution of a British World Atlas from the 1830s to the 1930s', Imago Mundi, vol. 41, 1989, pp. 98-123. Details

Images

Title
Discoveries in Western Australia, 1833/1
Type
Map
Repository
National Library of Australia Map Collection

Details

Title
Discoveries in Western Australia, 1833/3
Type
Map
Repository
National Library of Australia Map Collection

Details

Title
Discoveries in Western Australia, 1833/4
Type
Map
Repository
National Library of Australia Map Collection

Details

Title
Discoveries in Western Australia, 1833/5 (1834)
Type
Map
Repository
National Library of Australia Map Collection

Details

Title
Discoveries in Western Australia, 1833/6 (1838/1)
Type
Map
Repository
The University of Melbourne Library, Special Collections

Details

Title
Discoveries in Western Australia, 1833/7 (1838/2)
Type
Map
Repository
National Library of Australia Map Collection

Details

Dorothy F. Prescott