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[Charles Blaskowitz], A PLAN of the TOWN OF NEWPORT in the Province of Rhode Island. London: J.F.W. Des Barres, April 24, 1776.J.F.W. des Barres (1721-1824) was a Swiss-born engineer, surveyor, chart maker, publisher and colonial administrator who served for the more than half a century in British North America. He volunteered for the British Army, trained at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich and was posted to the 60th (Royal American) Regiment, where he served with distinction in the French and Indian War, was present at the capture of Louisbourg and Quebec, and helped produce a magnificent survey of the St. Lawrence River.

At war’s end, Des Barres was appointed by the Admiralty to survey the coast of Nova Scotia, an enormously ambitious and expensive undertaking that required the better part of ten years. He returned to England in 1774 and, with financial backing from the Admiralty, began organizing the publication of his charts and those of others, most notably those supplied by Samuel Holland, Surveyor General of Quebec and of the Northern District of North America. He ultimately compiled these into The Atlantic Neptune, which in its most complete form ran to four volumes containing hundreds of navigation charts, maps, and coastal recognition profiles, topographical views and even Revolutionary War battle plans. The Atlantic Neptune is not just the finest atlas of North America from the colonial period, but one of the greatest atlases ever published.

Later in life Des Barres served as Lieutenant Governor of Cape Breton (1784-87) and Prince Edward Island (1804-1812). He died at the jaw-dropping age of 102, his long life perhaps fueled by an abundance of bile.



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The HARBOUR of CHARLES TOWN in South-Carolina from the Surveys of Sr. Jas. Wallace Captn. In his Majestys Navy & Others, with A VIEW of the TOWN from the SOUTH SHORE of Ashley River. London: J.F.W. Des Barres, Esqr., Nov. 1, 1777.

Chart of Charleston, South Carolina from The Atlantic Neptune

Spectacular Revolutionary-era chart of the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, likely compiled from Colonial-era surveys and British reconnaissance just before the 1776 Battle of Sullivan’s Island. Published in the Atlantic Neptune, it was for its time by far the finest printed chart of the area. Blessed by a large, sheltered harbor and proximity to the […]

$38,500
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[Samuel Holland et al.] / “Lieutenant Knight of the Navy and Pilots,” THE COAST OF NEW ENGLAND. [London:] J.F.W. Des Barres, APRIL 24, 1776.

Magnificent chart of the Coast of New England from The Atlantic Neptune

By far the finest 18th-century depiction of the Coast of New England issued in The Atlantic Neptune to meet the needs of British navigators during the American Revolution. Description This monumental chart depicts the complex coast of New England from Passamaquoddy Bay south and west to Narragansett Bay. Hundreds, possibly thousands, of depth soundings are given, […]

$27,500
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1776 J.F.W. Des Barres chart of Newburyport to Cape Elizabeth

A nice example of what was for its time the finest chart of the coasts of New Hampshire and southern Maine. It was issued in 1776 in The Atlantic Neptune, an atlas of the East Coast used by British captains during the Revolution. The charts were so respected that they remained in use for decades, often […]

$4,250
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Samuel Holland et al., Massachusetts Bay. London: J.F.W. Des Barres, April 29, 1776.

Massachusetts Bay from The Atlantic Neptune

  A very fine chart of Massachusetts Bay from the Atlantic Neptune, issued for use of British navigators early in the Revolutionary War. The Atlantic Neptune is arguably the finest atlas of North American waters ever produced, achieving in its more complete states full coverage of the East and Gulf Coasts. The Neptune’s great strength was […]

$7,500
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[J.F.W. Des Barres, [A View of Portsmouth in Piscataqua River.] London: J.F.W. Des Barres, ca. 1780-81.]

Lovely aquatint view of Portsmouth New Hampshire from The Atlantic Neptune

A very rare and quite lovely aquatint view of Portsmouth Hew Hampshire, which supplanted an inferior line engraving of the same subject in The Atlantic Neptune. Background In 1764 the Lord Commissioners of Trade & Plantations appointed engineer Samuel Holland as Surveyor General of the Northern District of North America. In this capacity he was […]

$15,500
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BRM1921 Des Barres NYC 1777

“One of the greatest of the Atlantic Neptune charts” (Nebenzahl)

A large, superbly-executed, and very scarce map depicting the 1776 campaign for New York City and Westchester. The campaign was a disaster for General Washington and the young Continental Army, who had been ordered by the Continental Congress to defend the indefensible city. Surrounded as the city is by navigable rivers, and blessed with a […]

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Chart of Boston Bay from the Atlantic Neptune

A lovely example of what was for its time the finest chart of Boston Harbor and its approaches. The chart was issued in 1776 in The Atlantic Neptune, an atlas of charts and views of the East Coast used by British captains through much of the Revolution. The charts of the Neptune were so respected that […]

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Chart of Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound, from The Atlantic Neptune

This chart from Des Barres’ Atlantic Neptune was the most accurate contemporary chart of the region and remained so for the better part of 50 years. For their blend of accuracy and visual appeal, the charts of the Neptune have probably never been surpassed. Description The chart depicts the Buzzards Bay, Vineyard Sound and the surrounding […]

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The finest 18th-century chart of Boston Harbor in a desirable later state, with the addition of the extensive American fortifications erected during the 1775 siege.

Boston Harbor, from “The Atlantic Neptune”

The finest 18th-century chart of Boston Harbor in a desirable later state, with the addition of the extensive American fortifications erected during the 1775 siege. For its combination of accuracy and visual appeal this chart has never been surpassed. The chart depicts the environs of Boston, Boston Harbor and much of the coastline between Nahant […]

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Chart of Piscataqua Harbour (Portsmouth, NH) from the Atlantic Neptune

A lovely example of the first chart of Piscataqua Harbor and surroundings. The chart was issued in 1779 in The Atlantic Neptune, an atlas of charts and views of the East Coast used by British captains through much of the Revolution. The charts of the Neptune were so respected that many remained the standard for decades, often […]

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