Two Hundred Years Too Late (according to Wheat)

Finely Engraved English Chart of North America & California Coast

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369. [MAP]. SAYER, R[obert] & J[ohn] Bennett (publishers) & [Thomas Jefferys (engraver)]. [Title on left sheet] Chart, containing the Coasts of California, New Albion, and Russian Discoveries to the North, with the Peninsula of Kamtschatka, in Asia, opposite thereto; And Islands, dispersed over the Pacific Ocean, to the North of the Line. [title on right sheet] North America and the West Indies, with the opposite Coasts of Europe and Africa. [below neat line, on each of the two joined sheets] Published according to Act of Parliament. 10 June 1775, by R. Sayer & J. Bennett. No. 53 in Fleet Street. [far right below neat line on Sheet II] IV. [5 tables at top and lower right presenting extensive data and charts noting variations in latitudes and longitudes]: [1] The American Coast from the Corientes... [2] Difference of Longitude between Boston and Oswego... [3] East Coast of North America Astronomical Obserns.... [4] The Islands... [5] North Coast of South America Astronomical Observations... [At left, tracks of ships in the Pacific Ocean with relevant dates]. London: [Thomas Jefferys], 1775. Copper-engraved chart printed on two joined sheets of laid paper (Pacific from Kamchatka to Mt. St. Elais to northern South America; Atlantic from Labrador to British Isles and Sahara Desert), original outline color; neat line to neat line: 42.5 x 110 cm; overall sheet size: 53 x 118 cm. Light creasing where formerly rolled (a few short splits, mainly confined to blank margins), else very fine and large chart with many interesting printed annotations.

     The map appeared in Thomas Jefferys’ The American Atlas... (London, 1776). It was the middle portion of a three-sheet map issued as six sheets (each of the three sheets is a joined pair), and each sheet has its own headings; the general title for the full map was: A Chart of North and South America.... National Maritime Museum Catalogue 321. Phillips, Atlases 1165-1166. Rumsey 346.002: “One of the most important atlases of the American Revolutionary War period.” Shirley, Maps in the Atlases of the British Library: A Descriptive Catalogue T.JEF 2a-#2. Stevens & Tree, Comparative Cartography 4d. Wagner. Cartography of the Northwest Coast of America, Vol. 2, p. 343, #649:

This map contains the usual Fonte and Fuca legends. No Delisle geography except the various entrances. The northwest coast to Mendocino is based on Anderson’s Spanish chart. The Strait of Juan de Fuca is nearly one degree wide and just inside near the north shore is a Pillar Island.... This map contains two interesting references to the Pérez expedition of 1774; one a legend in 55° which reads: “Here the Spaniards saw several white and fair Indians in 1774,” and another in 49° which reads: “Coast seen by the Spaniards in 1774, with inhabitants which go naked.”

     Among the tracks of Pacific voyagers shown on the map are Vitus Jonassen Bering, Baron George Anson, Olivier van Noort, Alvaro de Mendaña de Neira, John Byron, John Green, and others. Three snippy notes regarding Sir Francis Drake are in California, or as the map labels the region, “New Albion”: “So named by St. Francis Drake to whom the country was surrendered by the King in 1578”; near “C. Blanco de Sebastian” and “C. Mendocin”: “Drake discover’d beyond 43 degrees”; and at San Francisco Bay: “Port St. Francis Drake 1578, not St. Francisco.”

     Texas is labelled as Louisiana, with a notation in a wide swath along the Texas coast: “Extensive Plains.” As would be expected of a sea chart, the toponyms mainly identify coastal locations in Texas. Covering all bases, the “River of the West” in the far west is shown twice, once as “River of the West” and south “River of the West according to some.” One senses frustration on the part of the map maker. For the perpetual treasure hunters, west of the Mississippi between 45 and 50 degrees is text: “Hereabouts are Supposed to be the Mountains of Bright Stones, mentioned in the Map of the Indian Ochagach.”

     In Mapping the Transmississippi West (#164 & p. 148), Wheat complains about another of the Sayer-Bennett-Jefferys maps from this series from which our map came: “Sayer and Bowles in England, Zatta in Venice, and Clouet, Bonne, Crepy, Brion and Janvier in France, all published maps during the 1770s and early 1780s of which the most that can be fairly said of them is that they disclose no new information, being in most respects throwbacks. In 1783 Pownall did no better, nor did Seutter the next year, while Pownall even copied Bowen’s 1763 material, and used the same data eleven years later. Almost incredibly, some (most!) of these maps hark back to Niza and Coronado and utilize their antique placenames!... Sayer did a little better but was still nearly two hundred years behind the times.” We will spare you Wheat’s scathing footnote on the map and book trade on pp. 147-148. ($1,600-2,400)

Sold. Hammer: $1,600.00; Price Realized: $1,960.00.

Auction 23 Abstracts

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