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Number: 3346
Continent: Africa
Region: West
Place Names: Ghana, Obuasi
Year of Origin: 1897
Title: Plan of the Property of the Ashanti Company
Language: English
Publish Origin: Obuasi, Ghana
Height: 63.0
Width: 93.0
Units: centimeters
Size Class.: Medium
Scale: 1 : 48,768
Color Type: Outline Color
Click for high-resolution zoomable image
Cartographer: Edwin Arthur Cade
Engraver: Manuscript
Publisher: Ashanti Goldfields Corporation
Other Contributors: James Irvine
Richard Francis Burton
Gold Coast Mining Company,
V. Lovett Cameron
Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker
William Smith
Northernmost Latitude: 6.25
Southernmost Latitude: 6.15
Westernmost Longitude: -1.75
Easternmost Longitude: -1.65
Measurement Notes: none on map, but database calculated modern estimates
Notes: [source: Bernard Lauser Voyager Press] Obuasi District, Ashanti [present-day Ghana], circa 1897-1899. Large manuscript map of the delineating a tract of land 100 square miles in the Obuasi District of Ashanti, which had just been acquired by The Ashanti Company [The Ashanti Goldfields Corporation] set up by owner Edwin Arthur Cade, and was at the time being prospected for gold. This is the first land purchased and worked by Cade and his firm. The property directly next to it is identified as a concession of Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker, a prospector for James Irvine's firm the Gold Coast Mining Company, of which Sir Richard Burton was a director. An original period map, hand drawn and hand coloured, annotated in manuscript, backed with linen. An early and significant colonial document from the goldfields of Ashanti. This map delineates the very first concession of land exploited for gold and owned by the Ashanti Company, formally called the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, in a region trodden only seventeen years before by Burton and Cameron who predicted its prolific yield of gold and gems. As indicated on the present map, the property was bordered directly by a concession granted to "Bruce Walker" for gold prospecting on behalf of the Gold Coast Mining Company, the latter of which was owned by James Irvine who appointed Burton and Cameron as its directors. Sir Richard Francis Burton, together with Verney Lovett Cameron, were commissioned to explore the Ashanti region during the winter of 1881-1882, specifically assessing it for the possibility of gold, and also to negotiate treaties with indigenous kings and chiefs. Gold was indeed found. In the preface to his post-expedition book, Burton wrote of the Gold Coast Colony, "Gold and other metals are there in abundance..." The Ashanti Goldfields Corporation, founded in 1897 by Edwin Arthur Cade, an adventurous young man undaunted by the Ashanti warriors and negotiated his own way into what remains today one of the largest producers of gold in the world. The property shown here was believed to be in the region that Burton described as a "neglected El Dorado." An annotation in the bottom margin, reveals that the company had been founded, and exploration of the land was in its start-up phases, stating as follows: "This piece of land if found auriferous & payable will be taken up for the Comp'y." At the time, there was great discord between the British and various tribes of the Ashanti Empire, resulting in a series of five conflicts known as the Anglo-Ashanti Wars which took place in the Akan interior of the Gold Coast (now Ghana) from 1824 to 1901. Contemporary accounts describe British soldiers returning from the various Ashanti wars with lumps of smoky quartz streaked with glittering gold. In July 1874, Kofi Karikari, King of Ashanti, signed the Treaty of Fomena to end the Third Anglo-Ashanti War, which stated among other things, that a sum of 50,000 ounces of approved gold would be paid to the British Empire as indemnity for the expenses incurred by Queen Victoria by the late war, that there would be freedom of trade between Ashanti and Her Majesty's forts on the Gold Coast, all persons being at liberty to carry their merchandise from the Coast to Kumasi, and that the road from Kumasi to the River Pra would always be kept open. Not long after the fourth Anglo-Ashanti War, in 1897, Ashanti territory became a British protectorate, making it even easier for Cade and others to prospect for gold. *This singular primary source visual document which records the very first plot of land prospected by Edwin Arthur Cade and memorializes the founding of the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation in 1897 in an area explored by Burton and Cameron seventeen years earlier explicitly for gold-bearing ground! The map further identifies, adjacent to Cade's property, a mining concession worked by Bruce Walker who was a prospector for the Gold Coast Mining Company founded by James Irvine, and having Sir Richard Burton and Verney Cameron as Directors. Hand drawn circa 1897-1899, at the center of the map a large annotation reveals the land measurement of "100 Sq. Mls." and delineates the tract of land in the in the Obuasi District, belonging to "The Ashanti Company" established by Edwin Arthur Cade. This is the original "100 square miles" purchased by Cade for gold prospecting, an investment which would bring him early success and create a legacy of wealth built on gold. Cade's concession, and thus the expanse of this map lays within the Pra River basin. Outlined in red ink are specific regions at the time being worked by gold prospectors Williams, Todd, and Falls, for the firm, these regions surrounding a large "dense bush". Annotations indicate one hill region near Lake Bosumtwi as having "ancient auriferous workings." Some distance away, an auriferous path is identified but not yet tapped into. Another annotation speculates on a possible gold-bearing reef leading to the lake. Indigenous camps or settlements are shown, as well as routes to the important capital city Kumasi and the Cape Coast Castle. The 100-square-mile property bordered Lake Bosumtwi northeastern corner, being some 200 kilometres from the sea in the hinterland of the Gold Coast between the Pra and Offin [Ofin] Rivers. In the opposite direction, the concession extended almost to Dadiasi, written on the map Dahdiassi. Of greater consequence however, the neighbouring property on its east was a concession granted to "Bruce Walker," as he is named on the document. Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker (1832-1901), commonly known as Bruce Walker, was an English trader, explorer, and gold prospector, whose concession near Obuasi remains a mining community and town today. Walker was hired by James Irvine's company which was actively purchasing land in the Ashanti regions examined by Burton and Cameron, who were both made Directors of the company. Essentially then, Bruce Walker named on this document was prospecting for gold on behalf of Sir Richard Burton, Verney Cameron and James Irvine, in the immediate vicinity of Edwin Cade's property, whose land had surely also been travelled by the great explorers. The connection between James Irvine, Richard Burton, and Bruce Walker: In 1881 James Irvine, director of the Guinea Gold Coast Mining Co., organized a public relation junket to boost the interest in Gold Coast mining companies on the stock exchange in London. For this purpose, he financed an expedition with the aim to prove the concessions acquired by Walker and Grant. To lead this expedition, he commissioned two well-known explorers and Africanists, Captain Sir Richard Francis Burton and Commander Verney Lovett Cameron, both fascinated by gold, in 1881-1882, to explore and survey the interior of the Gold Coast Colony, specifically to search for evidence of its yielding gold. If gold was found, Burton was to receive a percentage of the profits. Burton considered himself knowledgeable in mining, having observed miners during his various travels around the world, and having learned about hydraulicking during a visit to the Californian Goldfields. Cameron, who had previously travelled widely throughout Africa, first came to the Gold Coast in the spring 1881 as a member of the Akanko Gold Mining Company's promotional expedition. Together, the pair reached the Gold Coast in January 1882 to visit some of the Irvine concessions. This expedition took place only 17 years before Cade began his mining operations in the Oduasi region. Burton quickly determined that there was plenty of gold, and that the mines could easily be worked, calling the region "our neglected El Dorado." In addition to gold, he had found that other metals were there in abundance as well as diamonds, rubies and sapphires. Regrettably, owing to an ongoing dispute with the Foreign Office, Burton was required to leave the Gold Coast and was ordered to forfeit all moneys related to the mining operation, which he had earned "thus far" in the project. Within 6 months both men were back in London. Burton reported that Africa would prove to be one of the greatest of all sources of natural resources and precious metals and gems. Indeed, not much later, gold was discovered in the area and others were to profit from the sluicing methods that Burton had proposed - including Edwin Cade. In the 1880s, Irvine also hired agents to seek and buy concessions on his behalf. Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker was one of his two most active agents, the second being an African named William M. Grant. Both visited many of the prospective areas and bought several concessions, for paltry sums, on Irvine's behalf. In the first half of the 1880s, and maybe longer, Walker also engaged hands-on and prospected for gold on some of these concessions. Interestingly, James Irvine started up another company, the Gold Coast Mining Company Ltd., naming both Burton and Cameron the directors. Further research is warranted to ascertain whether Burton or his heirs managed to retain any earnings from this firm. Another company in which they were both directors, was the African Gold Coast Syndicate. It was for this firm, the Gold Coast Mining Company Ltd., that Bruce Walker named on the map, prospected for gold in the Obuasi district. Burton and Cameron jointly published a two-volume account of the expedition in 1883 titled, 'To the Gold Coast for Gold,' which remains an interesting account of the first gold rush on the Gold Coast. In his preface and first few pages, Burton wrote: "The Protectorate was overrun by British officers, and their reports and itineraries never failed to contain, with a marvellous unanimity of iteration, the magic word - Gold... The earlier miners have, it is believed, begun at the wrong end, with deep workings, shafts, and tunnels... flumes and force-pumps would have cost less and brought more... I went to the Gold Coast with small expectations. I found the Wassaw Country, Ancobra section, far richer than the most glowing descriptions had represented it. Gold and other metals are there in abundance, and there are good signs of rubies, diamonds and sapphire... I had long and curiously watched from afar the movement of the Golden Land, our long-neglected El Dorado..." The founding of a dominant and long-standing gold mining company, and the start of Ashanti's first gold boom, are illustrated with this primary source manuscript map. In the late 1870's Edwin Arthur Cade gained employment with the overseas merchant William Smith. He soon attracted the interest of Smith's daughter, whom he married, and subsequently, in 1883 Edwin Arthur Cade joined the firm as a partner, which they then called Smith & Cade. The young Cade was described as a born adventurer who strongly believed in bringing 'civilization' to Africa. Chief Joseph E. Biney was an African client of Smith & Cade in London, the latter having been shipping him mining equipment to West Africa since the 1880s. In March 1890, Joseph E. Ellis and Joseph E. Biney, two Fatwe merchants from Africa's Cape Coast, and their accountant Joseph P. Brown, secured mining concessions for 100 square miles in the Obuasi District [25,900 hectares]. Their concessions lay in the foothills of the Moinsi range and the Kwisa range, between the Pra and Offin rivers, which was the area thought to have been described by Sir Richard Francis Burton as "the neglected El Dorado" in his 1883 book "To the Gold Coast for Gold." Circa late 1894 to early 1895, Biney sent Cade a compelling invitation to visit a land "pregnant with gold" and to "come and see" the mining works. The land in question was in Ashanti, a kingdom then at war with the British. Cade had also received a sample of ore from the Ellis Mine, which he had assayed at Johnson Matthey in London on April 20th 1895. It ran eight ounces of gold per ton (274g/metric tonne). Cade was decisive and hurried to the Cape Coast. As he had been warned, the mine was not in the tranquil, languid Cape Coast region. It was in the interior 200 kilometres from the coast in a dense jungle ruled by the fearsome Ashanti. Venturing into these parts was beyond risky, owing to the hostile Ashanti dynasty which had battled foreigners and dominated neighbouring tribes for centuries, however the reward might be great if the prospectors survived. British soldiers returning from Ashantiland often carried nuggets of gold, and it was said that gold was rampant, as easily sourced as harvesting a produce garden. Regardless of risks, there Ellis and Biney opened the Ellis Mine, introducing modern industrial mining techniques to the area. Despite warnings that it was "distinctly undesirable for anyone to travel to Asante," that anyone doing so were at their "own risk," and that the colonial government "could not be responsible for their safety," Cade wasted not a minute to investigate. On 27 July 1895 he arrived at Bakwae on the Gold Coast where he negotiated with a local king for entry to the interior. After further negotiations, bypassing King Prempeh at Kumase [Kumasi], on 1 August he obtained the rights to transfer the lease to mine for gold in the Obuasi district. And with this, partners Ellis and Biney sold the concession to the London-based firm Smith and Cade. At Cape Coast Castle, on 27th August 1895, Cade signed the purchase agreement with Joseph E. Ellis and Chief Joseph E. Biney, and with a deposit for ?200, acquired their mining concession at Obuasi in Ashanti. To strengthen his rights, Cade shrewdly signed separate agreements with two chiefs, the Bekwaihene of the Bekwai who were occupying the area, and the exiled Adansihene of the Adansi, whose land it was. The chiefs were under the impression that Cade represented the British Empire as a whole, and he did nothing to dissuade them from the misinformation. With the subsequent overthrow of the Ashanti king in 1896, the Ashanti protectorate was brought directly under British control, and Edwin Arthur Cade was given approval to mine the region. On June 11, 1897, Cade listed the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation Ltd. on the London Stock Exchange. On December 24 of that same year he set up operations at Obuasi. The Obuasi mine yielded 2,544 ounces of gold in its first year of operation and 4,673 ounces the second year. This early success, coupled with the devastation of the South African gold trade during the Boer War (1899-1902), fed Ashanti's rapid growth that continued until the uprising of the Ashanti people against British rule in 1900. Within six months of Cade's arrival, the British invaded Kumasi, the Ashanti capital, and imprisoned the royal family. Governor William Maxwell, acting beyond his authority, but no doubt with the intention of stamping British authority in Ashanti, replaced Cade's agreements with the African entrepreneurs and chiefs with a fresh concession on behalf of queen Victoria. This agreement of 1897 granted an "imperium in imperio" to Cade's company, The Ashanti Goldfields Corporation (AGC), with broad rights covering the establishment of towns, trade, timber and waterways as well as mining. Maxwell's agreement excluded the rightful landowners and would be the cause of African complaints for decades. Unlike the majority of British free-standing companies established in the late 19th century, The Ashanti Company made quick profits, enabling them to pay a maiden dividend in September 1900. The Obuasi region contained some of the richest gold ore in the world. Edwin Arthur Cade, a man who knew so little about mining upon embarking on his adventure, became owner of the single richest gold mine in Africa. The Ashanti Goldfields Corporation is a gold mining company based in Ghana that was founded by Edwin Cade. The Ashanti Mine, located at Obuasi, 56 km south of Kumasi, has been producing since its founding in 1897. For most of its history in fact, the Ashanti Goldfields Corporation was the largest industrial employer in colonial and post-colonial Ghana. The gold mine was one of only a few in the then Gold Coast (Ghana) which remained open during the Second World War. New management in 1968, followed by a hedging crisis in 1999, caused near bankruptcy, and in 2004 the firm was purchased by Anglogold, ending its 107 years of autonomy. Robert Bruce Napoleon Walker (1832-1901), F.R.G.S., F.A.S., F.G.S., C.M.Z.S., commonly known as Bruce Walker, was an English trader, explorer, gold prospector, and collector of zoological specimens in West Africa, who a significant contributor of African artifacts to British museums, in particular, his collection of African shields. Circa 1878-1880 he set out for Sierra Leone, West Africa, working as a prospector for a gold mining enterprise called Gold Coast Mining Company, founded by James Irvine, a wealthy palm-oil dealer from Liverpool, who seems to have been one of the few who made a fortune during this first gold boom in the area. Walker was one of his two most active agents. Walker's concession was near Obuasi which remains a mining community and town today. Walker also had a child by Gabonese Princess Agnorogoule Ikoutou.
Last updated: Aug 9, 2018