Only the third located example of this rare and unusual map on linen.
Gray’s map is based on Robert Wilkinson’s important, unusual and rare North America, which was first published in London in 1804. Wilkinson’s was the first printed map to show the entire Louisiana Territory incorporated into the United States and also depicted the short-lived state of “Franklin” between North Carolina and Tennessee. Gray followed Wilkinson’s work closely, though he simplified the toponymy to allow for the limitations of printing on fabric. He also added a border featuring foliate elements and regularly-spaced allegorical medallions, rendering the map far more attractive than the prototype.
Little is known of Gray, other than that he engraved a portrait of Ben Franklin, published in Glasgow in 1814. As noted by Rumsey, “[English map dealer] John Faupel suggested this was probably made as a ‘commemorative’ piece in a very small issue.”
The Wilkinson map of North America
Gray’s map, and the Wilkinson prototype on which it is based, largely follows Arrowsmith’s Map Exhibiting all the New Discoveries in the Interior Parts of North America (1802) in the Rocky Mountain and the Oregon River areas, though adding new settlements and place names along the northwest coast not shown by Arrowsmith. Wheat notes that
“New Albion covers the Great Basin and the Pacific Coast north of California, but vies with ‘quivira or Moosemlek [of Lahontan] Indians much civilized having 100 towns and sailing with large vessels’ . ‘Pearl Shell Lake according to Lahonatan and from Indian reports salt water’ is just across from the range from ‘Gnacsitares’ and ‘Essanapes,’ and (on what is probably the Platte, but it may be the Kansas) ‘R. Morte ou R. Longue according to Lahontan.’ Proceeding north, the Missouri is drawn according to the Blackfoot Chief of Fidler, but with the remark, ‘Northern Bend of the Missouri observed by Tompson 1798.'” (Wheat 357).
The irony of Wheat’s description is that, unaware of the Wilkinson’s rare first edition of 1804, he was in fact describing the second (1823) edition of one of the most interesting and accurate large format maps of North America issued prior to the appearances of the maps of Humboldt, Lewis & Clark, Pike and Long. But for the rarity of Wilkinson’s map, it would unquestionably have received much greater attention among collectors and scholars.
Until a 2008 Sothebys sale, no copy of the Wilkinson map had appeared at auction since the Streeter sale. Gray’s map on linen offered here is rarer still, as it is but the third example known to this writer.
Rumsey #1204. OCLC #699504543 (Rumsey example only). Another example is held by the Art Institute of Chicago. Not in Threads of History.
Very good, with minor spotting and soiling