How to use this website

The About page provides the background to this project and how the final format evolved. It describes the sources of the maps included and traces the history of John Arrowsmith's map making venture with regard to the Australian maps which he issued. The most important of these maps are those from his LONDON ATLAS. The Introduction also deals with the definition of a map 'state'.

Maps lists the map titles whose states are described. By clicking on any of these titles one is taken to the page where there is a summary of the history of that particular title. On the Map Summary Page the various states of that title are accessible. By clicking on any of the states listed on is taken to the Map State page.

The Map State page gives full details of the map and includes images. The bibliographic information is presented first, i.e. the title, map maker's name, scale of the map, geographical coverage in terms of co-ordinates, date and place of issue, size. Beneath this is a brief description of what appears on the map.

This page shows many versions of the same map title. These versions have been arranged and numbered in order of their appearance from the map maker's premises.

For all map states after the first there is a further section called CHANGES AND ADDITIONS which follows the description and in which any Changes are noted. This is the quickest way to determine the differences between the states of any map.

Also on the Map State page there are links to Institutions holding examples, Published resources, i.e. books etc. and Images e.g. Zoom-ins.

Terms used in this website


Imprint is the word used to describe the the three elements of 'Place of publication', 'publisher' and 'date of publication'. This statement is normally found on maps below the map proper in the bottom margin, either centrally placed or to one side.

The imprint date shows when the publisher released the item to the public. However many publishers were less than particular about correcting the imprint on their works and consequently this statement may be misleading and not reflect the actual date of release. John Arrowsmith works are a prime example of this practice.

The only way to verify the accuracy of an imprint is by examining the internal evidence of the map content. In this way it has been possible to distinguish, among Arrowsmith's maps many versions of his maps which ostensibly are identical but which in fact differ from each other. These are described as 'states'.


The expression 'state' of a map is confined to issues of a map made from an engraved or etched plate. On each occasion when the copper plate is altered, either by the addition or removal of information, a new state of the map is produced. The use of the term 'edition' applies only to books but not to maps. A fuller discussion will be found in the About page.

Date of situation

The date of situation is the date portrayed by the map and may be either a single date or a date span. For example the map Australia from surveys … contains information from the Dutch explorations of the 1600s and also later information from the nineteenth century it therefore has a date span of 1616 to 1838. In contrast its publication date is May 1838.

Date of situation is particularly important for historical maps especially those produced as facsimiles i.e. copy of an original reproduced at a later date, as it is the map content that is significant to the user rather than the date at which the map was published.

Dating of Entries

The objective of this website is to assign a correct chronological date for John Arrowsmith's published maps of Australia. The first date shown is the actual date of publication and the second date in brackets is the imprint date given by Arrowsmith.

e.g. East 1840/1 (1838/4)
This map actually shows Edward John Eyres's tracks of 1839-1840 showing that the publisher had not updated the date of publication when he made the additions to the map.

On the other hand one can also find the opposite situation when the publisher updates the imprint of the map but does not actually add anything new to the map.

e.g. Van Diemens Land 1832/6 (1842/1).
This map remains unchanged after the first issue and is reissued with updated imprints for its entire life.

Location of Examples

This website lists examples of the various Map States that are held in libraries and other institutions. Other copies of the maps exist that are not listed here. The following are a selection of websites where information about the location of other maps can be searched for: