James Wheat and Christian Brun’s “Maps and Charts Published in America Before 1800,” commonly known as “Wheat & Brun,” is one of the great bibliographies of American maps. Wheat & Brun attempt to “describe the entire known cartographical contribution of the American press prior to 1800.” Nor do they limit themselves to the relatively small number of separately-published maps; indeed, they attempt to describe maps used as “illustrations in books and pamphlets and from all other sources such as atlases, gazetteers, almanacs, and magazines.”
Each entry provides, where possible, information about the mapmaker, publisher, date of publication, and size of the map, as well as information about the circumstances of publication (e.g., separate issue vs. atlas) and occasionally interesting advertisements and related material culled from the period press. Where a map exists in multiple editions or states, an attempt is made to treat each variant separately.
In short, Wheat & Brun, despite its relative age, has withstood the test of time and remains an essential reference tool for anyone with a collecting or scholarly interest in early American maps and charts. It is not currently available online.
A rare American chart of the waters off Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket. Chart from New York to Timber Island Including Nantucket Shoals was engraved and first published in 1791 by John Norman, Boston’s most notable post-war map engraver. It is usually found in Norman’s American Pilot, one of the earliest atlases published in […]
A scarce and interesting 1793 chart depicting the Gulf Stream, as well as thermometric observations of the Atlantic made on several trans-Atlantic voyages by Jonathan Williams. A grand-nephew of Benjamin Franklin, Jonathan Williams (1750-1815) served as his uncle’s personal secretary during his service as American agent in England in the early 1770s and as ambassador […]
A scarce and attractive restrike of George Gilpin’s important and phenomenally rare 1798 plan of Alexandria Virginia. NB: For some reason the plan did not photograph well; in person its appearance is excellent. Gilpin’s plan depicts Alexandria at a period of rapid growth, when as the lone port of entry on the Potomac it was one […]
“The first map of New Jersey to be printed in America” (Delaney), published in 1784-85 on behalf of the West Jersey Proprietors. The boundaries of Great Britain’s American colonies were usually the subjects of long-running disputes, based as they were on a toxic brew of ambiguously-written charters and geographic ignorance. The case of New Jersey […]
A rare chart of the Maine coast from the American Pilot, published in Boston by John Norman and one of the earliest atlases published in the United States. Chart of the Coast of America from Wood Island to Good Harbour was engraved and first published in Boston in 1791 by John Norman, the most notable of that town’s […]
The Pennsylvania Magazine was the sole periodical published in the America during the Revolution, appearing monthly between January 1775 and July 1776. Edited for much of its run by Thomas Paine, it had a truly American character, including literary and philosophical essays, book reviews, scientific and technical articles, and of course the latest news of military […]
A remarkable and very rare artifact of 18th-century American mapmaking and scientific inquiry. Background John Churchman (1753-1805) was an American mathematician, surveyor and map maker who for many years held the official post of surveyor for Chester, Delaware and parts of Berks and Lancaster Counties, Pennsylvania. He first came to notice for his Map of the […]
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 […]
One of the rarest maps of the Revolution, depicting the theater of war in the Philadelphia area from 1777-78. This map was issued by the Amsterdam firm of Covens & Mortier, based closely on one published by Bernard Romans in New Haven, Connecticut in 1778. It depicts the region within a roughly 75-mile radius of […]
An extremely rare map of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase in New York’s Finger Lakes Region, reflecting the mad scramble for land in post-Revolutionary America. With interesting manuscript additions by an early owner. Background Among the biggest losers of the American Revolution were the Iroquois of central and western New York, most of whom had sided […]