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Exceptionally rare map of Maine by John NormanJohn Norman was born in England around 1748 and probably apprenticed with London printer William Faden, father of the great engraver and publisher of the same name.  He moved to America in the early 1770s and first appears there in a May 11, 1774 Pennsylvania Journal advert offering his services as an “Architect and Landscape Engraver.”  In 1781 he moved to Boston, where he operated at several addresses as an engraver and publisher before handing his business to his son William in 1801. He died in Boston in 1817.

The work of John Norman almost entirely lacks the refinement of even middling European engraving of the time, but it often has a kind of crude power, and his entrepreneurial energy involved him in some of the most interesting and important American maps and atlases published in the late 18th century. Among these were Matthew Clark’s Complete Set of Charts of the Coast of America (1789); Norman’s own American Pilot (1790); and Osgood Carleton’s maps of Boston, Maine, Massachusetts and the United States.

Norman also performed numerous non-cartographic engravings, particularly in his earlier years in Boston.  Among these were portraits for Murray’s Impartial History of the War in America (1781), illustrations for the Boston Magazine (1783-84), and architectural images in the important work The Town and Country Builders Assistant (1786). 

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Osgood Carleton, AN ACCURATE MAP, of The DISTRICT OF MAINE Being Part of the Commonwealth of MASSACHUSETTS: Compiled pursuant to an Act of the GENERAL COURT, From Actual Surveys of the several Towns &c. TAKEN BY THEIR ORDER: Exhibiting, the boundary Lines of the District the Counties and Towns, the principal Roads, Rivers, Mountains, Mines, Islands, Rocks, Shoals, Channels, Lakes, Ponds, Falls, Mills, Manufactures, and Public Buildings, with the Latitudes and Longitudes &c. Boston: Published and Sold by O. Carleton & J. Norman, [1798.]

Osgood Carleton’s 1798 Accurate Map of the District of Maine

A great rarity, Osgood Carleton’s Accurate Map of the District of Maine is among the most desirable early Maine maps, the most detailed to appear in the eighteenth century, and one of the earliest maps sponsored by an American state. Carleton’s map depicts the then-District of Maine at a scale of six miles to the […]

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18th century American geographical playing cards

Unrecorded 18th-century American geographical playing cards

A hitherto-unknown set of 18th-century American geographical playing cards possibly by Boston engraver and publisher John Norman.  Following the Revolution, many Americans advocated the development of what might be called an “indigenous” geographic literature, produced by Americans for an American audience. By educating the citizenry about the American landscape, it was believed that this new canon […]

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J[ohn] Norman (engraver) / Sayer & Bennett (after), Plan of the Town of Boston, with the ATTACK on BUNKERS-HILL, in the Peninsula of CHARLESTOWN, the 17 th of June, 1775. [Boston, 1781].

John Norman plan of Boston, Charlestown, and the Battle of Bunker Hill

A dramatic 1781 image of Boston, Charlestown and the Battle of Bunker Hill engraved during the Revolutionary War by Boston engraver John Norman, who went on to become one of the most eminent map engravers and –publishers of the early Republic. The plan depicts all of Boston and Charlestown, with the Battle of Bunker Hill at […]

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