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An enormous, celebrated, and very rare map of Guangzhou

VROOMAN, DANIEL. Map of the Town Center and Entire Suburbs of Canton

[prob. Canton], 1855

Approx. 29 x 53 in. (73 x 135 cm). Original hand-coloring of selected features, some in wash, some in outline. Old folds, some separations at minor losses at folds, expertly mounted. Light browning and spotting. Very good condition. Archivally framed. A splendid display piece.

A RARE MAP OF GUANGZHOU. Daniel Vrooman came to China in 1852 as a missionary from the American Presbyterian Church. Later U.S. vice-consul in Canton, Vrooman is said to have introduced the first cotton spinning plant in China.

“No Western maps of the walled city existed until the middle of the nineteenth century, since the city was off-limits to foreigners.” (Garret, Heaven is High, the Emperor Far Away, p. 142). Because foreigners were forbidden from entering the walled city, Vrooman devised an ingenious plan to draw this map of Canton. “A very good map of the enceinte [urban fortification] was made by an American missionary, Daniel Vrooman, by taking the angles of all the conspicuous buildings therein, with the highest points in the suburbs; he then taught a native to pace the streets between them, compass in hand (noting courses and distances, which he fixed by the principal gates), until a complete plan was filled out. When the city was opened four years afterwards this map was found to need no important corrections” (Williams, The Middle Kingdom, p. 169). In addition to the walled city, this plan shows the area occupied by the Thirteen Factories shortly before they were destroyed in the Arrow War in 1856. The Thirteen Factories was the riverfront area outside the city walls reserved for foreign trade. The first area of China opened for foreign trade in the 18th century, the Thirteen Factories helped to make Guangzhou (or Canton, as it was then called by Europeans) one of the most wealthiest cities in the world.

EXTREMELY RARE. Cordier 304 cites only the 1860 edition, and it appears that scholars are aware only of that edition, which incorporates the new artificial island Shamin (for example, the copy at the National Library of Australia is the 1860 edition).

NOTE: the photograph at the left is only a detail from this enormous map.