This extremely rare and resplendently colourful, monumental map of Brazil was made as a promotional piece by the German arms dealer ARP & Co. of Hamburg, which maintained extensive business interests in Brazil in the years leading up to World War I. The map distinguishes each of Brazil’s states and territories in their own bright hue, and covers all aspects of human and natural geography in great detail. The ‘Convençãos’, below the title, upper right, identifies symbols for dozens of different features, including the locations of forts, lighthouses, reefs and ruins; as well as symbols distinguishing cities and towns of various sizes. The map also delineates Brazil’s extensive (and constantly growing) railway system, nothing completed lines in bold red, while lines under construction appear as intermittent red lines. It also delineates telegraph lines and major shipping routes. As noted in the title, the map is based on Adolf Steiler’s highly exact map of South America, and shows that, by this time, all of Brazil’s international boundaries had been settled, including the once nettlesome border between Brazil and British Guyana, which was ratified in 1904.
In all, the map gives the impression of rapidly industrializing nation, then enjoying an economic boom in the advance of World War I. Brazil then had a population of over 22 million, and was experiencing increasingly strong trade with America and European powers, including Britain, France and Germany.
The map was published by Justus Perthes of Gotha, Germany, one of Europe’s most esteemed cartographic houses, founded in 1785. It was a special commission for the Hamburg-based arms dealer ARP & Co. (their advertisement takes up the lower right corner of the map). The firm was a major weapons supplier to Brazil, as well as other South American countries in the years leading up to the war, maintaining a large office in Rio de Janeiro.
A Note on Rarity
ARP & Co. likely commissioned only a small print run of the map from Perthes, to be exclusively used by ARP’s agents as gifts and promotional devices intended for their clients and key contacts in Brazil and, as such, was likely never offered or public sale.
The map is extremely rare, we can trace only a single institutional, at the Bibliothèque nationale de France; while we cannot trace any sales records for the map going back 30 years.
References: Bibliothèque nationale de France: FRBNF40601601; OCLC: 494547738; P. L. Phillips, A List of Atlases and Maps Applicable to the World War (Washington, D.C., 1918), p. 164; The Geographical Journal, vol. 36, no. 6 (Dec., 1910), p. 760.