Biographies of Some of the More Famous Cartographers
Samuel Thornton (d.1715) was the son and heir of the English chart-maker, John Thornton, who was the pre-eminent English mapmaker of the later part of the seventeenth century and first decade of the eighteenth. After his death in 1708, Samuel Thornton continued to re-issue his father’s charts, often with his imprint substituted.
Isaac Tirion (c.1705-c.1769) was born in Utrecht. He became a prominent bookseller and publisher with premises on the ‘Kalverstraat’ in Amsterdam and was also to become a member of the board of the booksellers’ guild. He was responsible for a large number of atlases and books with maps.
Antonio de Herrera y TORDESILLAS
Antonio de Herrera y Tordesillas is perhaps best known for his “Descripcion De Las Indias Occidentalis”. Tordesillas worked as official historiographer to Philip II of Spain. His “Descripcion” contained fourteen maps of Spanish possessions, mostly in America. In “The Mapping of North America”, Philip Burden tells us the geography of the maps is based on that of Juan Lopez de Velasco’s manuscript charts of c.1575-80.
The “New General Atlas ...” by John Thomson (b.1777) was one of the few world atlases published in Scotland before the middle of the nineteenth century, but is every bit the equal of publications by English colleagues, who are regarded as the pre-eminent cartographers of the day. It was first published in 1821.
Thomson’s maps in this and other atlases are distinguished by their large scale, and the clarity of the engraving, which presents the most minute detail in a most legible fashion.
Thomson started as a bookseller in Edinburgh in 1807. He went bankrupt twice during his career, the second time in 1831, yet he was still able to produce the successful “Atlas Of Scotland” in 1832. The atlas was re-issued by W. & A.K.Johnston in 1855 following their purchase of the plated from Thomson.
Henry Teesdale was a London map publisher who flourished in the period 1828-1843. He was responsible for a number of large-scale maps, world charts, a world atlas and two county atlases. Teesdale is known to have acquired Robert Rowe’s English Atlas in the 1820s and reissued it as his own with much altered plates as “New British Atlas”. Teesdale also published the “New Travelling Atlas” in 1830.
Although he only issued one world atlas, "The Illustrated Atlas", John Tallis is among the best known of all map-makers and publishers. The maps from "The Illustrated Atlas" were first issued in 1851 to commemorate the Great Exhibition in London and are considered the last series of decorative maps of the world, combining fine cartographical detail within an elaborate and attractive border.
Further information about many of these cartographers may be found in the volumes of Tooley's Dictionary - an invaluable addition to any map collection or single item.