A scarce, quirky and decorative map of the New Sweden colony

Jonas Silfverling, Sculp., DELINEATIO PENNSILVANIAE et CAESAREAE Nov. Occident Seu WEST N. JERSEY in AMERICA. Up[sala], 1731.
Engraving on laid paper, 7"h x 10"w, uncolored

A fascinating 18th-century map of the mid-Atlantic region, including the short-lived colony of New Sweden. Engraved in Upsala, Sweden by Jonas Silfverling, it was typically issued as a folding plate in Eric Tobias Biorck’s Dissertatio Gradualis de Plantatione Ecclesiae Svecanae in America. According to Streeter the Dissertatio was “the first book written by a native American to be published in Sweden. Biorck was the son of a Swedish missionary who was sent to America in 1697. The account contains much significant historical detail and is especially knowledgeable concerning the Indians.” (II:917)

The map’s topography and toponymy are particularly detailed for the area around Delaware Bay, the site of the short-lived colony of New Sweden and later activities by missionaries such as Biorck’s father. East and West New Jersey are shown, though since 1702 the two had been united as the royal colony of New Jersey. The map’s particular charm derives from some of its cruder features-the rough engraving, the idiosyncratic lettering, and the proliferation of mis-spellings such as “Buks” County, “Baltemore” and “Khesapeak Bay”-as well as the florid calligraphy, sailing vessels along the coast, odd ostrich-like creatures shown populating New Jersey, and relatively enormous cartouche surmounted by the arms of Great Britain.

This example of the map seems exceptional, as it is printed on heavy stock, with very wide margins and no signs of folding. Both the left and right margins bear signs of having been trimmed, indicating perhaps that this example was edgebound, either in a large-format copy of the Dissertatio or some other work.

Docktor, “Pennsylvania Maps Prior to 1800,” #231S5. Streeter, vol. II #917 (listing the Dissertatio, mentioning the map).


Bit of soiling in margins, else excellent