A most attractive and extraordinarily rare map of North America, updating Popple and separately published at the height of the French and Indian War.
The map depicts North America almost—but not quite—to the Pacific, along with Central America, the Caribbean, and small portions of Europe and South America. Much of the geography closely resembles that on Henry Popple’s 1733 Map of the British Empire in America, also engraved by Richard Seale, though the present map covers a far larger area. Seale has however updated Popple’s work, adding for example Forts Necessity and Duquesne, key locations early in the French and Indian War. Outline coloring stakes out an aggressively imperialist view, essentially claiming all of eastern North America for the British Empire (red), with the trans-Mississippi West divided between France (green) and Spain (yellow).
Twelve inset maps and views, several borrowed from Popple, greatly enhance the map’s documentary value and visual impact. These depict key British strongholds in North America including Halifax, Nova Scotia; Boston; New York; and Kingston, Jamaica; but also the capitals of New Spain at Mexico City and New France at Quebec (The presence of the latter is discordant with the main map, which entirely omits any mention of the French dominion in Canada.) These are rounded out by small depicting the British capture of Porto Bello in Panama (1739) and the catastrophic assault on Cartaghena (1741) during the War of Jenkins’ Ear. The large and decorative title cartouche is flanked by an interesting cast including a native American resting his feet on an alligator (also borrowed from Popple) and what appear to be a British merchant and a leering pirate. The cartouche is surmounted by the Great Seal of Britain and Ireland, illuminated by the Sun and flanked by angels bearing in their hands the seals of France and Spain… a none-too-subtle message of Great Britain’s aggressive ambitions in North America.
The map is undated, but the French and Indian War content provides a terminus ad quem of 1754. Further, it bears the imprint of the father-son partnership of William and Cluer Dicey, which terminated with the former’s death in 1756, thus allowing us to date it conclusively to ca. 1755. The map was re-issued in 1776 by Richard Marshall, successor to the Dicey business, with a new imprint, date, and some re-engraving to the cartouche and topographic features, but no apparent substantive changes.
The map is extraordinarily rare. I am aware of but three other impressions of this first edition, held by the Archives of Canada, British Library and John Carter Brown Library, and two of the 1776 edition, one at the Archives of Canada and the other sold in the map trade some years back and now residing in a Midwest private collection.
Richard Seale and William and Cluer Dicey
The map was drawn and engraved by Richard Seale (1703-62), whose career in London lasted from the early 1730s until very near his death. Though best known here as the engraver of Popple’s Map of the British Empire in America (1733), he drew and/or engraved dozens of other cartographic works including many of London and other areas of Great Britain, and was “also known for architectural plates, etc.”
William Dicey (1690-1756) and his son Cluer (1714-1775) were London and Northampton-based printers, publishers and engravers. The two men worked in partnership in Bow Churchyard from 1736, bringing on Richard Marshall as a partner in 1753. After William’s death in 1756, Cluer Dicey and Marshall continued in business as “Dicey & Marshall” until the former’s death in 1775. The firm was “chiefly known for the production of broadsides, prints, ballads and especially chapbooks” as well as the publication of the Northampton Mercury. However, much of the Diceys’ income, and perhaps the majority, came from the wholesale distribution of patent medicines, in which they were a major player. Their products included among others Dr. Bateman’s pectoral drops and Daffy’s original and famous elixir salutis.
The Diceys publishing business was large, sophisticated and apparently very profitable. They did business throughout Great Britain, on the Continent and with retailers as far afield as Antigua, Boston, Newport and Philadelphia. All this seems to have paid off: In 1765 Cluer
“purchased a gentleman’s house, Claybrooke Hall in Claybrooke Parva, Leicestershire, from Thomas Byrd, a local landowner…. He also had two farms in Little Claybrooke and property in Stoke Newington, London…. He also settled the large amount of £5000 on his daughter Sarah Anne, born in 1746, who had married a London merchant, George Rigby…. There is also evidence that at about this time the Diceys acquired a coat of arms, described as “Arms, Azur, a lion rampant and a chief Or; Dicey; impaling, Argent, a squirrel sejant, cracking nuts proper.”” (Simmons, “The Diceys”)
Provenance and references
Provenance to Colonial Williamsburg Foundation via Brunk Auctions.
OCLC 588932661 (John Carter Brown Library only). COPAC lists an example at the British Library, assigning it a tentative date of 1770. Babinski, Henry Popple’s 1733 Map of the British Empire in America, unpaginated addendum (noting impressions of the 1756 and 1776 editions at Archives of Canada only). Background on the Diceys from R.C. Simmons, “The Diceys: cheap print in the era of the eighteenth-century consumer revolution,” at R.C. Simmons, ed., The Dicey and Marshall Catalogue (on the web site of the Bodleian Library). Biographic information on Seale and the Diceys from Worms & Baynton-Williams, British Map Engravers, pp. 195, 593-4.