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Ortelius: Iceland
Abraham Ortelius. "Islandia." From Theatrum Orbis Terrarum. Antwerp: Aegidius Coppen Diesth, [1587]. 13 3/4 x 18 1/2 (neat lines) plus full margins. Engraving. Latin text on back. Fine hand color. Very good condition. Denver.

One of the most desirable of all Dutch maps from the sixteenth century, Abraham Ortelius' famous map of Iceland. It was issued in 'the first modern atlas,' Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, ('Theater of the World'). The publication of this atlas marked an epoch in the history of cartography, for it is the first uniform and systematic collection of maps of the whole world based only on contemporary knowledge since the days of Ptolemy. In the sixteenth century there was a great increase in interest in maps and charts, and Ortelius, as a businessman with a passion for history and cartography, was at the forefront in meeting this demand. Through his collecting and his antiques business, Ortelius was able to research contemporary maps, becoming the greatest expert of his day in the bibliography of maps. Ortelius based his work on the best maps available, drawing all the maps himself with the celebrated Frans Hogenberg cutting most of the plates. Unlike other atlas-makers, Ortelius cited the authors of the original maps from which he compiled his work. Thus it is not only for his unprecedented achievement in issuing the first modern atlas, but also for his thoughtful and rigorous methodology, that Ortelius belongs amongst the first rank of cartographers. He is very aptly called 'the father of modern cartography.'

This map of Iceland is one of Ortelius' most famous maps because it is as decorative as any map issued in the sixteenth century, or for that matter, ever. It shows the volcano Mt. Hekla erupting, a herd of polar bears on ice floes, and sea monsters teeming in the surrounding waters. These are identified on the verso of the map, making this a contemporary compendium of "known" sea monsters. $9,500

Fremont's American West
John Charles Frémont, with Charles Preuss. "Map of an Exploring Expedition To The Rocky Mountains in the Years 1842 and to Oregon & North California in the Years 1843-44 By Brevet Capt. J. C. Fremont of the Corps of Topographical Engineers..." Washington, 1845. House issue. 30 x 50. Lithograph by E. Weber & Co. Some outline color. Backed on linen. Repaired tear in upper right corner and some light surface stains. Overall, very good condition for a fragile map. Wheat: 497. Denver.

A seminal map of the American West by John C. Frémont depicting the results of his explorations between 1842 and 1844. Frémont, popularly known as the "Pathfinder," was instrumental in opening the American West. In 1842, he was sent out by the U.S. Government to explore what soon came to be known as the Oregon Trail, as far west as the South Pass through the Rockies. The following years, Frémont was sent out again, at the instigation of Senator Thomas Hart Benton (Frémont's father-in-law) to further explore the northwest part of the country, following the Oregon Trail all the way to the Pacific Ocean. In 1845, the government issued a report of these two expeditions which covered vast lands between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean. Through this report Frémont achieved great fame, leading to his election as Senator from California and later to his selection as the first Presidential nominee for the Republican Party.

This important map depicts the surveying that Frémont did during those expeditions, as well as information from the earlier explorations of Jedidiah Smith. The map encompasses all the area between Kansas and the Pacific, and a profile of Frémont's route from the mouth of the Kansas River to the ocean is included at the top. As Carl Wheat noted, "John Frémont's map of 1845 represented as important a step forward from the earlier western maps of the period as did those of Pike, Long and Lewis and Clark in their day." He goes on to state that the map "radically and permanently altered western cartography," and that it "is a an altogether memorable document in the cartographic history of the West, and for it along Frémont would deserve to be remembered in history." $1,750

Nebraksa and Kansas
"Nebraska and Kansas." New York: J.H. Colton, 1854. Separately issued folding map, with original covers. First edition, second state. 28 x 20 1/2. Lithograph. Original hand color. Printed by D. McLellan. With inset "Map of the Territory Acquired from Mexico by the Gadsden Treaty 1854." Some light stains. Old separations at folds and tiny missing sections in corners of folds; expertly conserved. Overall, good appearance and condition. Covers with stamped title; some wear. Denver.

The first map to show the newly created territories of Nebraska and Kansas, issued the year of the Nebraska-Kansas Act. Prior to this the great plains was unorganized, Indian territory, but the large number of emigrants crossing them, along with the desire to build a trans-continental railroad through them, led to a pressing need bring the plains under some form of governmental and private control. The conflict between the slave states in the South and the free states in the North kept Congress from organizing the plains until they were able to create these two new territories in 1854 using the compromise of bringing them in under "popular sovereignty."

This wonderful map shows the two territories, as well as surrounding areas with impressive detail, based to a great extent of the latest military surveys. This map came out just at the beginning of the great plains settlement and development and the map shows the locations of towns and proposed routes for the trans-continental railroad, as well as the Santa Fe and Oregon trails. Missions, rivers, and the myriad Indian tribes are also detailed. Of particular note are a number of wonderful western vignettes of Indians, wildlife and a wagon train, these ornamental features adding to the decorative border and bright hand color. In the lower part of the map are an inset of North America and one showing the Gadsden Purchase of 1854. $6,850

Richard Taylor chart
Richard Taylor. "An Accurate Draft of the old straits of Bahama. taken from an actual Survey and remarks of Mr. Robert Bishop in 1762. And is now carefully Dedicated to the purchaser Captain_______by his most obliged Friend &c Richard Taylor. Philada. 30th. Novr. 1781." Philadelphia, November 30, 1781. Manuscript ink on paper; backed on cloth. 17 3/8 x 40 3/8. Very good condition. Denver.

A unique manuscript map of the straits between Cuba and the Bahama Islands, drawn in Philadelphia in late 1781. The map shows the northern coastline of Cuba from Havana to Cape Maize and the waters to the north. Taylor has depicted the hills and mountains as seen from just off the coast, as well as indicating where one could see trees from 6 to 8 leagues off shore and shrubs from 2 to 3 leagues off. It details islands (many named), shoals, inlets and soundings, as well as indicates anchorages in the channel.

The map was drawn by Richard Taylor, a Philadelphia sea captain. [The information on Richard Taylor is based on extensive research but is not proven. There were evidently a number of Richard Taylors on the East Coast in the late eighteenth century, including likely at least one other who made manuscript maps. Full notes on our research are available upon request.] Born in 1731, Taylor sailed in the Caribbean for a number of years before retiring to land jobs in the 1760s. He was the first clerk for The Society for the Relief of Poor and Distressed Masters of Ships, their Widows and Children (known as the Sea Captains Club), serving from the founding on 7 October 1765 to 1770. He also was listed in the later years of the eighteenth century as a teacher of navigation and manuscript map maker.

There was a great need for accurate and up-to-date sea charts for American captains throughout the eighteenth century, a need not easily met, especially during the years of the American Revolution, by printed charts which at the time pretty much all came from Europe. The demand for working charts was, instead, often met by American chart-makers who had access to printed charts and would make careful, full-sized copies of these charts in order to sell them to captains in need.

This is just such a chart, which includes the legend "And is now carefully Dedicated to the purchaser his most obliged Friend &c Richard Taylor." The lack of a name in the space indicates that Taylor may have made the chart on speculation but never found a buyer, or used this one as a template for copying, then selling the copy to a mariner bound for Cuba.

The chart that Taylor copied was an 1762 map by Captain Robert Bishop, a somewhat obscure British hydrographer, who stated in the key of one of his maps that he was on board the HMS Alarm, a Royal Navy frigate, during its tour of the Caribbean in 1758-60. Probably as a result of surveys during this voyage, Bishop wrote a book of sailing directions for the Gulf and Windward Passages, and also published a number of charts of the area in the early 1760s. His charts are very rare and known in some instances only by later printings. Laurie & Whittle, for instance, re-published six Bishop charts of the straits around the Bahamas in the 1790s, including a version of this chart, for which there is no known example of the first edition (making this manuscript the earliest known version of this chart).

The survival of this manuscript map is due to either that Taylor did not find a buyer or that he had retained this manuscript as a template, for a map purchased and used by a captain in the 1780s would likely not have survived. The story of its history is partially told by two notes on the chart. The first says "Endorsed with cloth by S.B. Ives, 8th & 9th Dec. 1829," where "endorsed" is used in the sense of 'put on the back,' derived from "en" (put on) and "dos" (back). S.B. Ives was almost certainly a partner in W. & S.B. Ives, book-sellers and binders in Salem, Massachusetts, from as early as 1824. Interestingly, besides this business, the firm is credited with being the first major American manufacturer of games.

The other note says "Estate of Mercy Gibbs." Mercy Prescott Gibbs (d. 1809) was the widow of Henry Gibbs, who had a mercantile business in Salem, Massachusetts, which explains why the chart was in Salem to be backed in 1829. Mercy was the sister of Rebecca Prescott Sherman, the second wife of Roger Sherman, who was one of the nation's founders, and the only one who was a signer of the Continental Association, Declaration of Independence, Articles of Confederation and the Constitution. Sherman, from Connecticut, obviously spent considerable time in Philadelphia, so it is possible that he was the conduit for this chart traveling from Philadelphia to New England. $21,000

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