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 Captain____.by 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. $38,000
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
C.H. Deforrest, Jr. "Map of the Gold Region with the Routes Thereto." From Harper's Weekly. New York, April 2, 1859. 4 1/8 x 7 3/8. Wood engraving by N. Orr. On full sheet with text, "How to get to Pike's Peak Gold Mines." Very good condition. Denver.
A nice example of the earliest generally available map of the Pike's Peak Gold Rush. When gold was discovered in the autumn of 1858 in the western part of the Kansas Territory, along the Rocky Mountain foothills near what is today Denver, the news created a great stir in the settled parts of Kansas and Nebraska along the Missouri River, as well as further east. This led, in early 1859, to what became known as the "Pike's Peak Gold Rush," in which thousands of hopeful prospectors traveled from cities such as Omaha, Des Moines, St. Joseph, Lawrence, and Kansas City across the plains to the "gold fields." This rush inspired a number of Pike's Peak guides and maps, describing and illustrating the routes to take.
One of first such guides, issued in February, was Byers and Kellom's Hand Book to the Gold Fields of Nebraska and Kansas, which included a small map drawn by D.H. Deforrest Jr. and engraved on wood by N. Orr. This map shows the main northern (following the Platte River) and southern (following at first the Arkansas River) routes. At the time, there were two main gold rush towns, Auraria and Denver City (which were to merge as Denver in early 1860) on either side of Cherry Creek where it empties into the South Platte. The creek is shown on the map, as is Auraria, but there is no mention of Denver.
The map from the Byers and Kellom guide was reissued within two months in Harper's Weekly from the same block (of which this is a nice example). This example of the map is accompanied by an article on "How to get to Pike's Peak Gold Mines," which ends with the prophetic words, "From present appearances, the rush to Pike's Peak will be tremendous." The Deforrest map subsequently appeared in a number of issues the Rocky Mountain News, a paper founded by one of the authors of the original guide, William N. Byers, in April 1859. The map was also issued on a broadside. This is thus a very early example of a map which played a not insignificant role in the early dissemination of information about the gold rush. $375
A.J. Johnson. "Johnson's New Illustrated &Embellished County Map of the Republics of North America, with the adjacent islands &countries." New York &Washington: Johnson &Browning, 1860. Copyrighted 1856. Separately issued wall map. 70 x 73. Lithograph. Full, original hand color. Mounted on original linen. A small bit of the edge of top left border worn away. With considerable creases and some small chips and a few tears, but basically intact and attractive appearance. Very rare. Denver.
The 1850s and early 1860s was a time of considerable development, both actual and intended, in the American West, with new territories established or proposed. This was a time when map publishers had to be on their toes to keep up with the changing political situation in the trans-Mississippi region. A.J. Johnson was one of the most agile, producing a series of at least eight versions of his huge wall map of the United States, Mexico and Central America between 1857 and 1861. This included two versions done in 1860, of which this was one, a year when huge changes were afoot. The New York Times reported on Jan. 11, 1859 that there were six applications for new territories before Congress, all but one of which were for trans-Mississippi regions. One was for creation of a Dakota Territory out of the eastern part of Nebraska Territory, one was for the creation of an Arizona Territory out of the southern half of New Mexico Territory, one was for a Nevada Territory out of the western half of Utah Territory, and one was for a Colona Territory out of the western part of Kansas. New territories were created for all four of these areas, though not beginning until 1861, for it wasn't until the southerners walked out with the succession of the Confederacy that Congress was able to create new territories which would prohibit slavery.
Johnson, though, could not know how things would fall out, and because there was such a long time between a map being drawn and actually printed and published, he tried to stay on top of things by using what information he could gather in Washington to anticipate the creation of new territories, so his map would be current when issued. This fabulous map shows how in some cases he was successful and others not so. Johnson did not start with a blank slate when he made this map, but rather updated his 1859 edition. This led to some interesting labeling. For instance, Johnson shows the territory of Nevada, a year before it was actually created, with a "U" and a "T" inside its borders, for he did not change the label for Utah, which still stretched across the old width of that territory. Similarly, a large "K" appears in a new territory in the western part of Kansas. That territory is given two names, "Co ona" [the "l" is missing] and "Jefferson," for there were actually competing proposals for a new territory centered on the Pike's Peak Gold Rush and Johnson wasn't sure which name would be kept. Of course, neither was, for this territory was created as Colorado in 1861.
To the north, the proposed territory of Dakota is shown, but limited to lands east of the Missouri River, whereas when it was created in 1861, it extended from the western border of Minnesota all the way to the continental divide. The final new territory Johnson added was Arizona, lying in the southern part of the old New Mexico Territory. This was the territory as its citizens originally petitioned Congress to create, and which Johnson thought would be so established. However, the northerners in Congress in 1860 would not allow a new slave territory, as it would have been if it were to have those borders, and when the territory was finally established in 1863, the then totally northern Congress made it to the west of New Mexico, rather than to the south, so that it would not be controlled by slave owners. The final interesting political depiction of the map lies in the northwest. In 1853, this area, which had been a very large Oregon Territory, was divided in half into Oregon and Washington Territories. Then in 1859, the western part of the Oregon Territory was made into the state of Oregon, the eastern part being then attached to Washington Territory. Johnson, however, was not up-to-date enough in his information, so he showed this eastern section as a stump "Oregon Tery."
Of course, all these political mistakes or guesses are the most salient of the features on the map, but there is much else of great interest. The map's western geography, as stated on the map, " was taken (with the consent of Capt. A.A. Humphreys) principally from a map compiled from the following authorities by Lieut. G.K. Warren, Topl Engrs...In the Office of Pacific Rail Road Surveys, War Department." As the Warren map was the best to date, this map's depiction of the west is excellent. Locations of Indian tribes, routes of exploration, forts, topography and much other detail is given throughout. Decoratively the map is also pretty awesome, with a wide decorative border and vignette scenes of the U.S. Capitol, Dubuque, New York, Detroit, St. Joseph, New Orleans and Cincinnati. It is interesting that within the same year of 1860, Johnson &Browning issued a somewhat modified version of this map, making this version particularly rare. $6,500
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