The chart depicts the coast from Staten Island as far south as modern-day Virginia Beach. The geography is based largely on that of Augustine Hermann’s monumental 1673 map Virginia and Maryland, with the addition of a great deal of hydrographic data and updates from other sources such as Thomas Holme’s 1687/8 General Description of the Province of Pennsylvania. Intended as a working chart, it features a dense network of rhumb lines, provides hundreds of depth soundings, and indicates shoals and other navigational hazards. Counties in Maryland and Virginia are named, numerous coastal cities and towns are identified, as well as many creeks and rivers, but otherwise there is little in the way of interior detail.
The chart was originally issued in the 1689 first edition of The English Pilot. Fourth Book. Earlier volumes of the Pilot had been introduced by London publisher John Seller, who conceived it as an effort to break the Dutch monopoly on chart publication. Seller ran into financial difficulties, however, and sold his interest in The English Pilot to William Fisher, who in turn brought in John Thornton as a partner, and together they issued The Fourth Book, dedicated to American waters. Presumably supported by its strong “brand,” The Fourth Bookwent through 37 editions over more than a century, its popularity continuing even as superior charts, in particular those of Atlantic Neptune, became available to mariners. Indeed, this chart from Mount & Pagewould have been one of the maps of choice for navigating the coast of the Mid-Atlantic Colonies during the American Revolution.
By 1742 the two plates for this chart of Delaware Bay and Chesapeake Bay became so worn that publishers Mount & Page were forced to invest in entirely new engravings. Charts from this second edition of the plates can be immediately recognized by the lettering of “Virginia,” which now reads VIR / GIN / IA. The example offered here corresponds somewhat, though not exactly, to what Coolie Verner’s unpublished cartobibliography of Virginia describes as the second state of the second edition: Per Verner, “Jarsey” has been changed to “Jersey” both in the cartouche and on the chart itself. However, Verner gives the imprint as “London, Printed for J. Mount and T. Page, on Tower-Hill, 1773.”
Burden, North America, #667. Phillips,Maps of America, p. 227 (from the 1758 edition of the Pilot). Sellers & Van Ee, Maps and Charts of North America and the West Indies, #719. Verner, The Printed Maps of Virginia 1590-1800 (unpublished typescript),vol. II #389 (for background) and vol. IV #717 (approximating this state). Wooldridge, Mapping Virginia, #89