Previously unrecorded map of the World, published in Boston by William Norman

[After Thomas Brown of Edinburgh] A NEW AND CORRECT Map of the WORLD According to the latest DISCOVERIES [:] WESTERN HEMISPHERE or the NEW WORLD [:] EASTERN HEMISPHERE or the OLD WORLD [:] Edinburgh Published BOSTON republished by WILLIAM NORMAN Bookseller and Stationer. Boston: William Norman, [1806?]
Engraving on two sheets joined, 16 ¾”h x 26 5/8”w at edges, old outline color. Some wear along old folds. Scattered foxing, soiling and staining. Punctures at upper corners, likely from having been tacked to a wall.

A previously unknown, and separately published, double hemisphere map of the world from the first quarter century of American mapmaking after the end of the Revolutionary War.

The map is a simple representation of the countries and regions of the world. Geographically, it seems to be of the late 1780s or early 1790s, highlighting the great voyages of discovery made by Captain James Cook round the world, as well as early expeditions by George Anson, and the route of Spanish treasure fleets across the Pacific.

The map itself is a very close copy of a map of the same title dated 1801, engraved by John Menzies, and published by Thomas Brown in his General Atlas (Edinburgh, 1801). While one might expect an American publisher to update and improve the Eurocentric depiction, there is no indication of geographical changes within the United States, such as the new states of Kentucky, Vermont, Tennessee and Ohio.

John Norman (1751-1817) & William Norman (1773?-1807)
John Norman and his son and partner William were the first important firm of map publishers active in the United States during and immediately after the Revolutionary War, and thus precursors of the firms established by John Melish and Henry Schenck Tanner. The father was one of the most important (but not exactly the best) cartographic engravers working in the young American republic, best known for his association with Osgood Carleton.

John Norman was apprenticed to William Faden the elder and trained alongside his son William Faden, the mapmaker and publisher, before emigrating to Philadelphia with his family in 1774. There he published a series of maps of events in the Revolutionary War. After the war, and much like Thomas Jefferys in London, he undertook a series of large-scale maps, including the first wall map published in the United States, the Norman & Coles map of New England (1785). Then in 1791 he published his American Pilot, 1791, a collection of navigation charts, some cribbed from The Atlantic Neptune and others based on American sources. This was a great success and was repeatedly reissued through 1816.

Once he had completed the Pilot, John Norman began to focus on his cartographic projects with Carleton, commencing with his Map of the United States (1791), and various schemes for large-scale surveys of Massachusetts and Maine, plans of Boston, and so on. While John was thus preoccupied, from about 1794 William took over management of the firm, substituting his name on title-pages and engraved imprints on their printed maps, and complete control from about 1798, adding a series of coastal pilots, A Pilot for the West-Indies; including the coast of America (1795), Sailing directions for the Labrador and Banks pilot: containing, directions for the eastern coast of the United States (1799); The South-American pilot (1804); and so on.

John’s projects ended in financial failure in 1799, when the Massachusetts General Assembly finally rejected the ambitious wall-maps of Maine and Massachusetts created by Carleton and Norman. Thereafter the principal focus of the firm shifted towards more commercial projects, particularly the publication of maps modelled on existing British charts and maps.

The world map
A particular problem with fully appreciating the achievement of the Normans is that there are a large number of items they advertised in newspapers that are no longer extant. It is clear that the market at this time for larger, more prestigious, and therefore more expensive, maps was very limited. They were almost certainly printed and sold in small numbers. That, coupled with the low survival rate of separately-published maps, means that many — such as this map of the world — are known in but one or two copies or have vanished from the record altogether.

Indeed, until now, this map of the world was “known” only from newspaper announcements: In a general stocklist of “Books, Charts and Maps. PUBLISHED and sold by WM. NORMAN” appearing in the New-England Palladium, listed in the section of ‘Maps’ is a “Map of the World — price 75 cents, colored.” (April 4, 1806).

I am aware of a single example of another state of this map, without any imprint or identifying features. Although only a poor web image is available, it is clearly the same plate, as there are several identical areas of plate damage. This firm also owns two hand-drawn “school” maps dated 1814 which have very similar titles and are likely copied from this Norman map.

The discovery of this new map adds significantly to our knowledge of William Norman’s business, but is also a fascinating addition to the extant corpus of early American maps.

Not in OCLC, and neither RareBookHub nor Antique Map Price Record note any examples having appeared on the antiquarian market.