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PERU / PERU-ECUADOR BOUDARDY DISPUTE: Novisima Mapa del Perú / J. Boix Ferrer Editor / Joya Literaria / Lima y Arequipa / 1904.


An extremely rare and highly decorative Art Nouveau era map of Peru that showcases the country’s maximalist (some might say ‘outrageous’) boundary claims with respect to its disputed frontiers with Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia; designed by J. Boix Ferrer, the proprietor of the ‘Joya Literaria’ bookstore, with branches in Lima and Arequipa, it is predicated upon the best sources, detailing all aspects of topography, infrastructure and the locations of indigenous national territories, and is adorned with a fine inset map of lima and a diagram of comparative heights of Peru’s highest Andean peaks.


Colour photolithographed map, dissected into 21 sections and mounted upon original linen, housed in original maroon card covers bearing gilt title to front cover (Very Good, light even toning, old tack marks to corners; covers worn, repairs to spine), 74.5 x 100 cm (29.5 x 39.5 inches).


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This extremely rare, separately issued map of Peru was beautifully designed by J. Boix Ferrer, the proprietor of the ‘Joya Literaria’ bookstore, which had premises in Lima and Arequipa. Printed by the Instituto Italiano de Artes Gráficas, in Bergamo, Italy, the map was ‘Publicado con Autorización Suprema,’ (published with the authority of the government), with its geographical details compiled by the engineer P. Amadei, who relied upon Professor Antonio Raimondi Map del Perú (Paris, sheets issued serially, 1880-1900), a colossal 32-sheet work that was the country’s ‘official national map’.

The map brilliantly captures Peru’s dramatic topography, noting all major features, from its semi-arid coastline up to the great heights of the Andes and then down into the lowlands of the Amazon Rainforest. The republic is show divided into departments, each coloured in their own lively hue, while the ‘Signes convencionales’ explains the symbols employed to identify many features, such as railways (both in operation and planned), roads, political boundaries, national and regional capitals, telegraph offices and lines (both territorial and submarine).

Notably, the map labels the locations of the territories of Peru’s many indigenous nations that remain, even today, a dominant element of the country’s identity.

The map features three graphic insets, including, in the lower right, the ‘Plano de Lima’, a map of the capital city, showing it divided into 5 ‘quartels’ (wards), with an index identifyng 38 sites; while below is a ‘Planisferio’, a World Map showing Peru’s location within its greater context. In the upper right is the diagram, ‘Mayores alturas de las montañas del Perú’, which graphically shows the relative heights of 11 of the country’s highest peaks, from what was then thought to be the paramount, the Nevado Corapuna, on down (the Nevado Huascarán is today known to be Peru’s highest peak). Along the bottom of the map is an index of place names, as well as a list of the country’s railways with their lengths, plus, tables of shipping distances.

However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the map its ‘matter of fact’ representation of Peru’s maximalist territorial claims against its neighbours, as it showcases a ‘Gran Perú’ that takes in large parts of today’s Ecuador, Brazil and Bolivia.

Notably, Peru is shown to have incredibly expansive boundaries in the upper Amazon Basin. Peru’s northern frontier is shown to take in all of what is today eastern Ecuador, with the frontier coming amazingly close to Quito, while the country is also shown to possess large parts of the Brazilian states of Acre and Amazonas.

Since colonial times all the boundaries between the various countries (former colonies) bordering the Amazon Basin had undefined boundaries in that region. The vast 7,500,000 km² basin was, until the mid-19th century, largely uninhabited by people of European decent, it still being in the possession of its indigenous peoples, such that gaining sovereign title to the territory was a low priority. However, with the discovery of vast natural resources, such as rubber and gold, the possession and formal ownership to the Amazon suddenly became a top national priority to the various stakeholders.

Peru, as the successor state to the dominant Spanish colony in South America, felt entitled to the lion’s share of the Amazon adjacent to its Andean heartlands. Through the 19thcentury, it maintained an active and, at times, acrimonious boundary dispute with Ecuador, while also contesting territory with Bolivia and Brazil, albeit in a less heated fashion.

Shortly before the present map was issued, Brazil and its local proxies gained the initiative in the Acre-Amazonas area. During what was known as the Acre War (1899-1903), they seized the region from de facto Bolivian control. At a treaty signed in the Brazilian city of Petrópolis (November 17, 1903), Bolivia ceded Acre to Brazil, and this practically ensured that any Peruvian claims upon the territory were invalid.

As for the Peru-Ecuador boundary dispute, for decades the countries had contested a 200,000 km2 (77,000 sq mi) roughly triangular tract that ran for the eastern slopes of the Andes down into the Amazon Basin between the Río Napo and Río Marañón.

Peru and Ecuador both claimed the disputed region since colonial times, and ever since gold and rubber were discovered there in the latter 19th century, the contest became more intense and acrimonious. Numerous high-level diplomatic attempts were made to resolve the matter through compromise. The Herrera-García Treaty (1890), arbitrated by the King of Spain, seemed promising, but was eventually rejected by both parties, and all other ventures proved to no avail. In 1904, the dispute remained red-hot, as so much was at stake.

The Peru-Ecuador boundary dispute would not be resolved until the Ecuadorian–Peruvian War (July 23-31, 1941), known locally as the Guerra del 41, when, during World War II, Peru mounted a lightening invasion of Ecuador, taking much territory and threatening to seize Guayaquil. Under the spectre of total defeat and U.S. pressure to end the conflict (the Americans wanted a ‘united front of the Americas’ during World War II), Quito relented, and Peru halted its advance.

At the Rio de Janeiro Protocol (January 29, 1942), Ecuador was forced to cede pretty much all the disputed territory, creating today’s Peru-Ecuador frontier. While Ecuador subsequently tried to ‘wriggle out’ of the protocol, these efforts proved fruitless, and both sides agreed to respect the boundaries in perpetuity at the Itamaraty Peace Declaration (1995).

Another major territorial-boundary issue noted on the map is the fact that Peru’s former southernmost department, Tarapacá, was ceded to Chile following the Pacific War (1879-1883), whereupon an annotation reads ‘Cedido a Chile por el tratado de 20 Octubre 1883’.

A Note on Rarity

The present map is extremely rare. It seems to have been a ‘boutiquey’ production issued in only a limited print run only for sale at J. Boix Ferrer’s ‘Joya Literaria’ bookstores, while the survival rate of such maps is often quite low.

We can trace only 2 institutional examples of the map, held by the British Library and the Bibliothèque nationale de France, although there are assuredly some additional examples in South American libraires not catalogued online. Moreover, we cannot find any sales records for any other examples.

References: British Library: Cartographic Items Maps 83005.(15.); Bibliothèque nationale de France: GE FF CARTE-10905; OCLC: 556341485.

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