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The American Atlas: or, A Geographical Description of the Whole Continent of America:

wherein are delineated at Large, its Several Regions, Countries, States, and Islands; and Chiefly the British Colonies ...

Published: London: Printed and Sold by R. Sayer and J. Bennett, 1776

Stock code: 88571

Price: £85,000

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First issue of the 1776 edition, published one year after the first, most maps in this atlas are dated 1775, with some dated 1774. “The chief publication used by English and American officers during the American Revolution” (Karpinski), with large maps of 11 of the 13 colonies, and of French Canada. As Geographer to the Prince of Wales, and subsequently the King, Jefferys had unparalleled access to the latest surveys of the American colonies and “is remembered in particular for some of the most important eighteenth-century maps of the Americas, a series given cohesion and impetus by the preliminary hostilities and eventual outbreak of the Seven Years’ War.” (ODNB). After Jefferys’ death in November 1771, his business passed to Robert Sayer and John Bennett, who, in 1775, issued all of Jefferys’ separately issued maps in atlas form for the first time, under the umbrella title The American Atlas. This is considered to be the most important eighteenth-century atlas for America, described by Walter Ristow as “one of the most authoritative and comprehensive atlases of America … a geographical description of the whole continent of America, as portrayed in the best available maps in the latter half of the eighteenth century … as a major cartographic reference work it was, very likely, consulted by American, English, and French civilian administrators and military officers during the Revolution”. The geographical knowledge of America gathered here was to have impact not only on the strategy of the War of Independence, but also influenced the course of future treaty negotiations. The maps comprise: 1,2,3: Braddock Mead (alias John Green). “A Chart of North and South America, including the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans …” Published 10 June 1775. Six sheets joined into three. 4: Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg. “The Russian Discoveries.” Published 2 March 1775. One sheet. 5,6: Emanuel Bowen and John Gibson. “An Accurate Map of North America Describing and distinguishing the British and Spanish Dominions.” Published 2 July 1775. Four sheets joined into two. 7: Thomas Jefferys. “North America from the French of Mr. D’Anville.” Published 10 June 1775. One sheet. 8: Samuel Dunn. “A Map of the British Empire in North America.” Published 10 January 1774. One sheet. 9: Thomas Jefferys. “An Exact Chart of the River St. Laurence from Fort Frontenac to the Island of Anticosti.” Published 25 May 1775. Two sheets joined into one. 10: Sayer and Bennett. “A Chart of the Gulf of St. Laurence …” Published 25 March 1775. One sheet. 11:”A Map of the Island of St. John in the Gulf of St. Laurence.” Published 6 April 1775. One sheet. 12: James Cook and Michael Lane. “A General Chart of the Island of Newfoundland.” Published 10 May 1775. One sheet. (Upper border just shaved.) 13:”A Chart of the Banks of Newfoundland.” Published 25 March 1775. One sheet. 14:Thomas Jefferys. “A New Map of Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Island with the adjacent parts of New England and Canada.” Published 15 June 1775. One sheet. 15,16: Braddock Mead (alias John Green). “A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of New England.” Published 29 November 1774. Four sheets joined into two. 17: Samuel Holland. “The Provinces of New York and New Jersey; with part of Pensilvania and the Province of Quebec.” Published 20 December 1775. Two sheets joined into one. 18:Capt. Carver. “A New Map of the Province of Quebec according to the Royal Proclamation of the 7th of October 1763.” Published 16 February 1776. One sheet. 19:William Scull. “A Map of Pennsylvania Exhibiting not only the Improved Parts of the Province but also its Extensive Frontiers.” Published 10 June 1775. Two sheets joined into one. (A few tears along folds.) 20, 21:Joshua Fry and Peter Jefferson. “A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland with Part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina.” N.d. Four sheets joined into two. 22,23:Henry Mouzon. “An Accurate Map of North and South Carolina with their Indian Frontiers.” Published 30 May 1775. Four sheets joined into two. 24:Thomas Jefferys. “The Coast of West Florida and Louisiana.” Published 20 February 1775. Two sheets joined into one. 25: Lieut. Ross. “Course of the River Mississipi [sic] … Taken from the Expedition to Illinois in the latter end of the year 1765.” Published 1 June 1775. Two sheets joined into one. 26:Thomas Jefferys. “The Bay of Honduras.” Published 20 February 1775. One sheet. 27: J.B.B. D’Anville. “A Map of South America …” Published 20 September 1775. Four sheets joined into two. 28:Cruz Cano, et al. “A Chart of the Straits of Magellan.” Published 1 July 1775. One sheet.

Folio (558 373 mm) Late 18th-, early 19th-century blind-ruled half calf, marbled boards, attractive violet and sepia, flower-patterned pastedowns. Letterpress title and index leaf. 22 engraved maps on 48 sheets (all folding or double-page except for one single-page) by Henry Mouzon, Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson, William Scull, Thomas Jefferys, Samuel Holland and others, hand-coloured in outline. A little rubbed on the boards, the corners through, splitting to the joints and chipping head and tail of the spine, some stabilisation and restoration, light toning to the maps, some faint offsetting, a few short splits to edges and on the folds, a couple of minor professional repairs, else a very good copy.

Bibliography: Cumming Southeast Maps 449 and 540; Howes J-81; Phillips Atlases 1166; Walter Ristow, Bibliographical Note in American Atlas facsimile of the 1776 edition, 1973; Sabin 35953; Streeter sale I:72 (first edition).

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