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Lot number: 39422
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Publisher: READ, R.P.
Title: This Geographical Plan of the Island & Forts of St Helena is Dedicated by permission to Field Marshal His Ro.l Highness The Duke of Kent and Strathearn By Lieu.t R.P. Read.
Published: London: Burgess & Barfoot, October 1815

Size: 18.1 x 23.2 inches.
46.0 x 59.0 cm.
Colouring: In original colours.
Condition:  Dissected and laid on linen, total 460 x 590mm. With 'A Descriptive Sketch of St Helena to Accompany Lieut. Read's Geographical plan of the Island' pasted on the reverse. Toning and stain in lower left.
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FIRST EDITION. A map of the island of St Helena, decorated with trees, ships, cannons, residences, and even whales (perhaps sperm whales) firing powerful jets of water from their blowholes, lending an illustrative air to the island's geographical representation.
Each country property lists its owner, whilst the Helenian “landmarks”, such as telegraphs and the citadel, are also depicted, thus adding some supplementary but precious historical information to the document.

This South Atlantic island chosen to house Napoleon during his second exile because of the ring of high cliffs that would make escape a virtual impossibility.
For the first two months he lived in a pavilion on 'The Briars' estate (almost the centre of the map).
He was then moved to Longwood House. The poor state of repair of Longwood, situated on a damp and windswept part of the island, is reported to have shortened the former emperor's life.

The rare first edition with "PLANTATION HOUSE The Residence of BUONAPARTE" erroneously marked as residence of Napoleon Bonaparte and "Longwood farm The Residence of the Lieu.t Gov."

In the lower right corner of the map there are facsimiles of Napoleon's signature, first when First Consul, and another when Emperor. Robert Kirkwood (December 8, 1774 – November 14, 1818) was a Scottish engraver active in Edinburgh during the late 18th and early 19th century. (B.Worms, British Map Engravers p. 377.)

Three published editions in three years – plus a subsequent fourth edition, printed in 1841 – suggest that the map was successful, commercially speaking.
- The first edition was published in October 1815 by London's Burgis & Barfoot (32 Southampton Street, The Strand). This version is the rarest – and thus most sought-after – because it lists “Buonaparte's” residence as Plantation House, which subsequently went on to become the governor's “palace”, occupied by Hudson Lowe.
- The second edition, also dated October 1815, rectified some labelling mistakes: Longwood, naturally, became Napoleon's home, Mr Balcombe's house – The Briars – was changed to “Buonaparte's first residence”, and Plantation House was captioned “Residence of Governor”. The precise date of this edition is uncertain: either it is correctly dated and it was a matter of a few days or weeks between the two print runs, or the date is out by a couple of months, but the publisher did not see fit (or simply forgot) to change the print date.
- The third edition – which contained no changes – went on sale on 4 June, 1817, and was produced by a different London printing and publishing firm (this time J. M. Rippin, n° 21 Theobald's Road).
- The fourth edition – from 1841 – was released once again by Burgis & Barfoot. This edition was timed to coincide with another Napoleonic event: the return of the emperor's remains to Paris – the “Retour des Cendres” – which took place in 1840.

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Item category: Africa | Central Africa | West coast / Ivory Coast

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Item category: Africa | Central Africa | West coast / Ivory Coast

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