Missionary Map of Western Asia, and Adjacent Countries, From the Best Authorities. O. B. Bidwell.
Missionary Map of Western Asia, and Adjacent Countries, From the Best Authorities...
Missionary Map of Western Asia, and Adjacent Countries, From the Best Authorities...

Missionary Map of Western Asia, and Adjacent Countries, From the Best Authorities...

New York: Published by W. H. Bidwell, No. 120 Nassau street, 1846. Wall map, hand-colored lithograph on four joined sheets, 66.25” x 83.75” plus margins, mounted on renewed linen, renewed brown silk selvage at right and left edges, top edge affixed to wooden rod, lower rod lacking.

A large and boldly graphic map, centering on the Ottoman Empire and depicting various missionary outposts therein, and as such a powerful visual tool designed to promote the missionary cause.

The map extends from the Caspian Sea in the northeast to southern Bulgaria in the northwest, and from the upper Persian Gulf in the southeast to Libya in the southwest, embracing not only the Ottoman Empire, here labeled the “TURKISH EMPIRE,” but also Persia and an unconquered portion of Arabia. The missions of several organizations are identified with red watercolor circles, squares, and sketches of churches, representing, according to the key, the American Board, the Episcopal Board, and the English Church Missionary Society. An upside-down cross represents the London Missionary Society for the Jews. Most of these symbols are concentrated within Anadolia (Anatolia), the relative scarcity of symbols elsewhere evidently suggesting the great extent of work yet to be done.

Reverend Oliver Beckwith Bidwell (1810–1881) compiled a number of missionary maps, including maps of the world, Africa, China, India, the Sandwich Islands, and Micronesia, as well as the present map. All were advertised in The American Congregational Yearbook for the Year 1855, the promotional text revealing their purpose: “This well known series of maps prepared for Monthly Concerts, Bible classes, and Sabbath schools has been favorably received by the Christian public, and met with a rapid sale. They are full and complete, presenting the grand features of the earth’s surface in land and water in bold and distinct outline, well suited to strike the eye and impress the mind in respect to geographical boundaries and limits, and so distinct as to be clearly seen by an audience over a large lecture room…” With bold black lettering and bright colors this mammoth map is both impressive and comprehensible at a considerable distance, and it is not hard to imagine a sympathetic contemporary audience growing more informed and enthusiastic under its influence.

The publisher of this map, Walter Hilliard Bidwell (1798–1881), was the compiler’s brother. The earliest Bidwell maps recorded in OCLC are dated 1846, although the present map, also dated 1846, is identified as the sixth edition, perhaps indicating that they began publishing somewhat earlier. In any case, their partnership lasted for at least two decades. Nevertheless, their maps are curiously scarce. OCLC does not record the map offered here, and records only one copy of an 1865 edition, as well as one copy each of the other Bidwell maps, only one of which is held by an American institution (Missionary Map of the Hawaiian or Sandwich Islands, at LC), the others being at the British Library.

REFERENCES: The American Congregational Yearbook for the Year 1855, p. iii of advertisements.

CONDITION: Good, darkened, some damp-stains, occasional abrasions, small restored losses, cracks mainly at bottom edge; the whole stabilized on new linen backing.

Item #3675

Price: $2,250.00

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