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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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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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Rare American battle plan of the first conquest of Louisbourg

A rare plan of the 1745 siege of the fortress of Louisbourg, cut in Boston by James Turner and published in one of the earliest American news magazines. All the more remarkable for having been issued less than a month after the French surrender. The massive French fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island was […]

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1798 plan of Alexandria Virginia

George Gilpin’s 1798 map of Alexandria Virginia

A scarce and attractive restrike of George Gilpin’s important and phenomenally rare 1798 plan of Alexandria Virginia. Gilpin’s plan depicts Alexandria Virginia at a period of rapid growth, when, as the lone port of entry on the Potomac, it was one of the country’s busiest ports. The simple gridded street plan is shown with street names […]

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John Norman plan of Boston, Charlestown, and the Battle of Bunker Hill

A dramatic and very scarce image, produced during the Revolution by an important Boston engraver. The plan depicts all of Boston and Charlestown, with the Battle of Bunker Hill at its height. Charleston is in flames, the British are advancing on the American redoubt and the famous “rail fence,” and a British squadron in the Charles […]

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Phinehas Merrill, PLAN of the TOWN of STRATHAM. [New Hampshire], July 17, 1793.

1793 Phinehas Merrill plan of Stratham, New Hampshire

A rare, informative and charming map of Stratham, New Hampshire by important regional surveyor Phinehas Merrill, and the only map of a New Hampshire town published in the 18th century. The map depicts the town of Stratham (incorp. 1716) situated along the Squamscott River in southeastern New Hampshire. The town’s boundaries are shown, including the […]

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An 18th-century Gulf Stream chart, with a Ben Franklin connection

An interesting chart depicting the Gulf Stream and thermometric observations of the Atlantic made by American Jonathan Williams, Jr. Williams (1750-1815) was a grand-nephew of Benjamin Franklin and was his personal secretary during the latter’s service as American agent in England in the early 1770s and ambassador to France during the Revolution. He later served […]

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