Highly Important American Maps and Atlases from Donald Heald Rare Books
Highly important maps from Donald Heald.
Donald Heald Rare Books has published a catalogue of Highly Important Maps and Atlases. These are, as the title says, highly important, almost all either focused on, or containing significant material relating to, the United States. They weren't necessarily the United States at the time. These maps date from 1513 to the 19th century, many predating the nation, one predating even colonial America. There are only 25 items in this catalogue, but each is described and depicted in great detail. These maps are worthy of the effort. Here are some examples.
We will start with the oldest. It is the 1513 edition of the Ptolemaic atlas Geographiae... This is the one with the great Waldseemuller maps. It contains 27 traditional “ancient” maps, along with 20 “modern” maps created by Martin Waldseemuller. The “ancient” maps depicted the world as it was known for many centuries. However, with the dawn of the Age of Discovery in the decade before Columbus, new information began to roll in at an increasingly rapid pace. The most notable of new information, at least from an American perspective, pertained to the New World. One of his maps is generally considered the first map devoted entirely to the Americas. Clearly recognizable are the northeastern portion of South America, southeastern North America, Florida and the Gulf Coast in particular, and the islands of Cuba and Hispaniola. The latter go by the names “Isabella” and “Spagnolla.” Particularly interesting is that Waldseemuller names the new continent “Terra Incognita.” When he first produced this map in 1507, he called it “America.” In this later production, he backed off of the name. It is suspected that he originally named the land in honor of Amerigo Vespucci, believing he discovered it, but when leaning that Columbus was first, decided the recognition was misplaced. Waldseemuller notes that the map is based on information provided by the “Admiral,” most often thought to be Columbus, though it might have referred to Vespucci. Item 1. Priced at $485,000.
Item 3 is A Mapp of Ye Improved Part of Pensilvania, Divided into Countys, Townships and Lotts. It would take a very large map today to break Pennsylvania all the way down to lots, but around 1688, when it was produced, there were far fewer people living there. This map was produced by Thomas Holme, and its primary purpose was to encourage immigration to the colony. William Penn had hired Holme to survey the territory, and create a map showing settlement to date. Along with the counties, townships and lots is an inset of Philadelphia, showing potential immigrants back in England that there was, indeed, civilization in this far-off land. Heald notes that this is the most detailed map of any American colony produced during the 17th century. $75,000.
Item 11 is a rare and unusual map, one of the few produced in America during the Revolutionary War: To the American Philosophical Society this Map of the Peninsula between Delaware & Chesopeak Bays... The map was produced by John Churchman, and the purpose was not to philosophize over the nature of geography. In the days before government sponsored projects, it was up to private interests through organizations such as this to promote internal improvements. The idea here was to build a canal that would link Delaware Bay with “Chesopeak” Bay. At the time, the only way to ship goods by boat from the end of one bay to the other was to go all the way around the Delmarva Peninsula, a long journey considering how close the bays were. This map was printed in 1778 or 1779, and it contains five dotted lines representing different proposed routes. Eventually, the northernmost route was chosen, but the canal did not open until 1829. $120,000.
Highly Important American Maps and Atlases from Donald Heald Rare Books
John Wallis' first post-revolution map.
Item 15 is John Wallis' The United States of America laid down from the best authorities, agreeable to the Peace of 1783. This is the first separately engraved map of the United States after peace was reached with Great Britain following the American revolution. Considering it was published in England, on April 3, 1783, you might expect some lingering hard feelings. Apparently not. The cartouche shows a majestic Washington and learned Franklin, along with Lady Liberty and other goddesses. Georgia, the Carolinas, and Virginia extend all the way to the Mississippi, as does Florida, but the latter was turned over to Spain, not the United States. The northeastern states and the eastern portion of the aforementioned southern states was well known, but to the west there is a “Boundary of the Back Settlements,” and between here and the Mississippi River (then the American border to the west), understanding is limited. To the northwest, the actual boundary becomes unknown, as the source of the Mississippi, the western border, had not been found. The result is a narrowing arm of territory between the Canadian border and a Mississippi River that reaches toward that border, but never quite gets there. While noting the source of the Mississippi is unknown, Wallis places it at White Bear Lake, south of Lake of the Woods (this mythical White Bear Lake is not the same as the one found in Minnesota today, the latter being located near St. Paul, on the other side of the state). Price on request.
There are many types of maps, but none permeated American culture during the last century like the road map. The automobile gave Americans the freedom to explore their land like nothing before. Quickly, a network of roads and highways crossed the land and reached into its distant corners. Everyone who wanted to travel had to have a road map. They were given away free at every gas station. It wasn't always so. In 1789, when Christopher Colles released his A Survey of the Roads of the United States of America, there were none. Of course travel was not reachable by the masses before the automobile, but people did still have to get around. It was easy for the traveler to get lost, but as Colles explained, with these maps, “it will be impossible for him to miss his way.” Colles provided “strip” maps, two or three sections of the route in a strip per page. You could travel from Connecticut to Virginia, with several side trips to places like Annapolis, York, and Albany. Colles not only gave you the route, but in anticipation of today's online travel maps, he showed you where you could stay, get a meal, find a blacksmith to repair your “tires,” or go to church (provided you were Episcopalian or Presbyterian). He even showed you where the jails were (not sure why). If this wasn't enough, Colles provided the names and locations of many of the people who lived along the roads. It was a costly undertaking, partly funded by subscriptions, but Colles was unsuccessful in his attempts to get funding from Congress and the New York State legislature. It was not a financial success for him, but prophets, like profits, are not always recognized in their own time. His collection of 83 maps covering 1,000 miles of roads was the first of what became an indispensable tool to our endless search for the perfect vacation. This copy includes the original broadside prospectus for the work. Item 18. $150,000.
Donald Heald Rare Books may be reached at 212-744-3505 or email@example.com. Their website is found at www.donaldheald.com.