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BRM1315 Carleton Mass 1802_cartouche“Mathematical practitioner” Osgood Carleton (1724-1816) of Boston is remembered today for his considerable output of important maps of American subjects.  Among the best known are seminal maps of Boston, Massachusetts, Maine and the United States, often produced in partnership with Boston engraver and publisher John Norman.  Carleton was sufficiently well respected that other mapmakers, such as Norman as well as Matthew Clark, solicited his “seal of approval” on their work.

A classic “hard-luck” story, Osgood Carleton sought to make ends meet by engaging in a wide variety of professional activities involving applied mathematics: “Income and a certain celebrity resulted from his various published endeavors, but teaching and surveying formed the pillars of Carleton’s livelihood. The ledger of his career, like those of many other practitioners, resembles a catalogue of occupations that reflects an enterprise and opportunism born of economic necessity.” (Bosse, p. 143)

The single best summary of Carleton’s life and work may be found in David Bosse’s “ Osgood Carleton: Mathematical Practitioner of Boston,” Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, vol. 107 (1995), pp. 141-164.



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Osgood Carleton 1796 plan of Boston

1796 plan of Boston by Osgood Carleton

A rare and detailed plan of Boston by Osgood Carleton, taken from the 1796 second edition of John West’s Boston Directory. This plan’s relatively large scale enables it to depict Boston in greater detail than any map of the town since before the American Revolution. The street layout is shown and all streets named, as […]

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Landmark Osgood Carleton map of Massachusetts

The Osgood Carleton “Map of Massachusetts,” the first official state map and a vast improvement over any earlier effort. Description A very nice copy of the second edition of the first official map of the State of Massachusetts. Based largely on new surveys, it depicts the state with the surveyed boundaries of counties and towns; […]

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Exceptionally rare map of Maine by John Norman

Exceptionally rare map of Maine by John Norman

An early, valuable and exceptionally rare map of Maine while still the “Eastern District” of Massachusetts, with the ownership inscription of renowned Maine mapmaker Moses Greenleaf. The map by John Norman of Boston is a reduced edition of An Accurate Map of the District of Maine, which had been compiled by Osgood Carleton, engraved by […]

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A landmark in the mapping of Maine

An essential Maine map. Description This monumental map depicts Maine at a scale of 2.5 miles to the inch. The very large scale enables the map to provide much detail of the intricate coastline and complex system of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds, though surprisingly little attention is paid to its many mountainous areas. The […]

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1794 William Norman chart of Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay

Rare 1794 chart of Chesapeake Bay from Norman’s “American Pilot”

A mammoth, detailed and rare 18th-century American chart of Chesapeake Bay. From John and William Norman’s American Pilot, one of the earliest atlases published in the United States. This impressive chart depicts the complex coast from New Jersey south to just below Cape Henry, Virginia. It provides an immense amount of detail for Delaware Bay […]

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