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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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1794 William Norman chart of Chesapeake Bay and Delaware Bay

Chesapeake Bay from John 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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Osgood Carleton, AN ACCURATE MAP of THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS Exclusive of the DISTRICT of MAINE Compiled pursuant to an ACT of the GENERAL COURT From Actual Surveys of the several Towns, &c.... Boston: Published and Sold by O. Carleton & J. Norman, [1798.]

Osgood Carleton’s 1798 Accurate Map of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

A great rarity, this seminal map by Osgood Carleton is by far the best 18th-century map of Massachusetts and one of the earliest officially-sponsored maps of an American state. With extensive expert restoration and priced accordingly, but all-but unobtainable in any condition. The map’s large scale of six miles to the inch gave mapmaker Osgood […]

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