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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.



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BRM1825 Romans_C&M Philadelphia 1777

A Revolutionary-War rarity by Bernard Romans

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 […]

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Rare 18th-century map of the Phelps and Gorham Purchase

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 […]

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18th-century map of the New York Military Tract

18th-century map of the New York Military Tract

A great rarity, being the first printed map of the New York Military Tract, established during the Revolution to provide compensation to the state’s veterans of the Revolutionary War.  The Military Tract, also called the New Military Tract, consisted of roughly two million acres in what is now known as the Finger Lakes Region, set aside […]

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Wheat and Brun #1: a milestone in American map publishing

The first world map engraved and printed in America. This rare map appeared in the first American edition of Hawkesworth’s account of Cook’s first voyage, published in New York by James Rivington in 1774. The map is executed on a Mercator projection and indicates the tracks of voyages by Cook, Bougainville and Wallis. At least […]

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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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The first American canal map

A seminal map of road and canal routes linking the Delaware and Chesapeake Bays. This scarce and unusual map depicts southeastern Pennsylvania, the upper Del-Mar-Va Peninsula, and part of Maryland. The map emphasizes the area’s extensive network of waterways and the locations of major towns and settlements. Solid lines indicate three proposed canal routes between […]

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A landmark New Jersey map, engraved in Colonial Boston

A landmark map of northern New Jersey and a desirable example of early Colonial engraving and printing. This map was one of three to appear in the 1747 Bill in the Chancery of New Jersey, a vital document reflecting long-standing land disputes of colonial New Jersey. An invaluable review of Colonial New Jersey land ownership […]

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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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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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