John Arrowsmith produced the largest scale maps, constructed mostly from official government sources, of the British colonies during the early to mid nineteenth century period.

This study of the publication history of the Australian maps from John Arrowsmith's London Atlas of Universal Geography documents the differences between the states of the maps over the life of the Atlas, from its first appearance in 1834 until 1858 - a time of intense geographical exploration in many parts of the world. The maps illustrate the extent of, and data available on, British exploration in the Australian continent after almost 50 years of British occupation.

Determining the states of the plates - their publication history - is necessary, because Arrowsmith's imprints (bibliographic statements) often contradict the content of the maps.

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