A lovely copy of the first map of the independent United States

Jean Lattre, CARTE DES ETATS-UNIS DE L'AMERIQUE Suivant le Traite de Paix de 1783. A.S. Excellence Mr. BENJAMIN FRANKLIN…, Paris, 1784.
Engraving, 21 ¼"h x 29 5/8"w at neatline. Flanked by panels of engraved text, yielding in all an image 21 ¼"h x 39 ½"w, with good margins all around. Fine period outline and wash color. Manuscript "41" in ink at upper right.

A beautiful copy of the first map of the United States published after ratification of the Treaty of Paris, which ended the Revolutionary war and recognized American independence. Lattré’s “is one of the most attractively designed and executed maps of the period” (Ristow), and this is one of the finest examples of this important map in existence.

The map appeared in June 1784, just two months after the United States gained official independence through the final ratification of the Treaty of Paris by the United States in February 1784 and Great Britain in April of the same year. It was in fact the first map of the nation published after ratification, by which the independence of the United States gained official status.

(John Wallis’s April 1783 map, often cited as the first map of the new United States, was published in London before the final Treaty was signed by the negotiators and thus shows the United States and its boundaries only in their proposed form. Abel Buell’s map of April 1784 was the first of the United States published in America. It appeared after the ratification of the Treaty by the U.S. but before final ratification by Britain.)

Lattré dedicated his map to Benjamin Franklin, who had served as the American Minister Plenipotentary to France and became wildly popular there. Franklin later served as chief of the American delegation that negotiated the Treaty of Paris. Lester Cappon says that the dedication “lends historical significance to the work,” and suggests that Lattré may have presented a copy of the map in person to Franklin at the minister’s residence in Passy.

The beautiful cartouche contains the title as well as the dedication to Franklin, superimposed upon the foresail of what appears to be a Ship of State. A seaman hangs emblems of the new United States along the fore topsail, including the Great Seal and the insignia of the Order of the Cincinnati.

The map is flanked by panels of text that give a year-by-year, colony-by-colony account of the “principal events” of the American Revolution. These panels were printed on separate sheets and were to be pasted to the map’s left and right-hand margins, but few surviving copies are known with the text. Only four copies with the text have been identified: at the Library of Congress, the Library of the Society of the Cincinnati, in a private American collection, and this example. In addition, an example owned by a New York dealer appeared on the market in the 1980s with one of the two panels. Another example resides at Colonial Williamsburg, but the text is incomplete. The map was separately-issued and is rare in any condition.

Lester Cappon, The First French Map of the United States; McCorkle, New England in Early Printed Maps, #784; Pritchard and Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, #70; Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, p. 63, reproduced on p. 65; Sellers & Van Ee, Maps and Charts of North America, p. 158.


Old folds, with the faintest hint of toning along one vertical fold. Small chip in upper-right margin replaced at an early date. Withal a lovely example.