“The largest, best-known and most useful Nantucket map” (Crosby)

F[erdinand] C. Ewer D.D. / J. Ottman Lith. / Published by J.B. Swain, HISTORICAL MAP OF NANTUCKET Surveyed and Drawn by THE REV. F.C. EWER, D.D. Nantucket, Mass.,[ca. 1886.]
Lithograph, 26.25"h x 41.5"w plus margins, uncolored. Backed with modern replacement linen.

The great size and visual impact of Ewer’s map, the wealth of information, and its scarcity on the market make it one of the “musts” for a Nantucket map collection. Offered here in a rare variant form, published on the island.

Reverend Ewer’s fascinating map depicts Nantucket Island in its entirety, as well as Tuckernuck, Gravelly, and Muskeget Islands just off its western coast. The map shows the island’s ponds, few hills and other topographical features, as well as providing a wealth of historical information. Joseph Garver’s description of the map can hardly be improved upon:

“It is not clear exactly what prompted the Reverend Ewer to design his historical map of Nantucket. Although he had spent many years of his youth on the island, where his family had deep roots, he had long since left it behind. After graduating from Harvard, he had tried his hand unsuccessfully at several occupations in California (panning for gold, making maps for a civil engineer, and working as a reporter) before experiencing a barroom conversion and entering the ministry. His religious duties then took him to New York City, where he served as rector of several churches.

“Ewer’s map provides a detailed synopsis of Nantucket’s history, beginning with Gosnold’s sighting of the island in 1602. The chronological table identifies the major stages in Nantucket’s development-its early settlement and land divisions, the evolution from shore to deep-sea whaling, the establishment of religious and educational institutions, and the development of the transportation network connecting Nantucket with the mainland (and Nantucketers with one another). Ewer also notes events that marked the transition from one era to the next-the first island whaler to seek its prey in the Pacific (1791), the death of the last Indian (1822), the great fires of 1836 and 1846, and the first gaslight in 1854. In more graphic form the map indicates the sites of old settlements and burial grounds, as well as the boundaries of sachem rights, the former shoreline, old fishing stages, and whaling stations.” (Surveying the Shore, p.115)

Offered here is a rare variant of Ewer’s map, published on the island by J.B. Swain in or around 1886. The map has been updated to reflect recent changes on the island, including the construction of the Nantucket House hotel, the Nantucket Railroad from the harbor to Surfside and on to Siasconset, and life-saving stations at Coskata and Muskeget Island. The table of historical events has been updated to 1886 and reflects these and other developments.

Crosby, Nantucket in Print, pp. 224-225. Garver, Surveying the Shore, pp.114-115. OCLC lists only one example of the Swain variant (#8852947, Massachusetts State Library), but another is held by the Boston Public Library. Neither the 1869 first edition nor the Swain variant are listed in Antique Map Price Record, Phillips or Rumsey.


A few cracks and tears mended, some minor discoloration toward edges, and small areas of margin reinstated, but very good or better.