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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.



37 results, ordered by Publication Date

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Rare and important 18th-century plan of New York City

The earliest known state of the first large-format plan of New York City published after the American Revolution. Extraordinarily rare and all-but undescribed in the bibliographic literature. The plan depicts depicting a city fully recovered from the depredations of the Revolution and beginning the explosive growth that made it the commercial capital of the world. Comparison […]

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The Pennsylvania Magazine, with a rare map of the “Great Warpath”

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 […]

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Samuel Lewis’ landmark map of the Northwest Territory

A landmark map of the United States territory north and west of the Ohio River, with much valuable detail on the progress of Federal land sales, the extension of national boundaries at the expense of the native peoples, and accelerating settlement on the frontier.  Background After independence the public lands north and west of the […]

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Early and scarce American plan relating to the Revolution in Boston

Following the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in the Spring of 1775, the nascent American army kept the British army bottled up in Boston. However, with the only land access across the narrow Boston Neck and the British in complete control of the sea, the Americans had no hope of taking the city […]

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The first printed map to depict events of the American Revolution

Following the battles of Lexington, Concord and Bunker Hill in the Spring of 1775, the nascent American army besieged the British army in Boston. The stalemate was only broken in the Spring of 1776, when the American General Henry Knox placed cannon-taken from Fort Ticonderoga and laboriously transported overland in mid-Winter!-on Dorchester Heights overlooking the […]

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With the earliest printed plans of any Connecticut towns

This unusual piece of detective work traces the paths of three prominent Parliamentarians who voted in 1649 for the execution of Charles I, then fled into exile after the Restoration. It was written by Ezra Stiles during his tenure as President of Yale College (1778-1795). The History traces the travels and hiding places of Edward […]

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An excellent early map of Kentucky

One of the earliest obtainable maps of the state of Kentucky following its admission to the Union in 1792. It depicts the state at a time of staggering growth, for the end of the American Revolution had removed barriers to settlement, and Americans poured in via the Ohio River and through the Cumberland Gap. The map […]

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John Churchman, THE MAGNETIC ATLAS, OR VARIATION CHARTS OF THE WHOLE TERRAQUEOUS GLOVE: COMPRISING A SYSTEM OF THE VARIATION & DIP OF THE NEEDLE, BY WHICH THE OBSERVATIONS BEING TRULY MADE, The Longitude MAY BE ASCERTAINED. THE THIRD EDITION WITH ADDITIONS. New York: Printed for the Author, and Sold by Gaine & Ten Eyck, 1800.

John Churchman’s “Magnetic Atlas”

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 […]

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Plan of the Campus Martius (Marietta), unrecorded by Wheat & Brun

A rare plan of the Campus Martius at Marietta, marking a major milestone in American territorial expansion.  Background After independence the public lands north and west of the Ohio River presented the Congress with both an opportunity and a problem: On the one hand a well-managed process of land sales and settlement would replenish government […]

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1796 Charles Varle plan of Philadelphia

Charles Varlé plan of Philadelphia (1796)

First edition of a important and very rare Federal-era plan of Philadelphia published by Charles Varlé in or around 1796. When Varlé issued this plan Philadelphia was still the capital of the United States, pending the transfer to Washington, D.C. in 1800. It was the 2nd-largest city in the country with a vibrant and diversified […]

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