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William Faden (1749-1836) was a London engraver, mapmaker, map- and printseller and publisher. He began his career as an employee of Thomas Jefferys, then from 1771-76 was in partnership with Jefferys’ heirs before assuming sole control of the business. His long career lasted until 1823, when he retired and transferred his firm to his former apprentice James Wyld.

Faden ascended to the apex of the London map world, becoming Geographer to both George III and IV, based in no small part on his groundbreaking cartography of the American Revolution, using as his sources original maps and plans supplied by some of the ablest British mapmakers in the American service. In many cases, Faden’s battle plans are the only contemporary plans of the events they depict, and almost all are sought after for their clean engraving, richness of information, and clear depiction of of complex events.  Many of the original manuscripts used by Faden survive in the remarkable William Faden Collection at the Library of Congress Geography & Map Division.

Examples of his excellent mapping of Revolutionary events include a 1776 plan of the Siege of Quebec; a 1777 plan of Newport, Rhode Island; a 1777 plan of the Battles of Trenton and Princeton; and this very rare 1787 plan of the Battle of Yorktown.

For an excellent biography of William Faden and a list of his publications, see Laurence Worms and Ashley Baynton-Williams, British Map Engravers, pp. 221-225.



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The Raif Effendi United States map

A map of the United States rendered in Ottoman Turkish, from a pioneering attempt to import western geographic knowledge into the Islamic world.   This elegant map appeared in the Cedid Atlas Tercümesi (“Translation of a New Atlas”), published during Sultan Selim III’s Mizam-I Cedid reforms as part of a broader effort to import western learning […]

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The finest 18th-century map of New Jersey

An essential Revolutionary-period map, invaluable for understanding both Colonial boundary disputes and the campaigns in the Middle Colonies from 1776-1778. The map William Faden’s map depicts New Jersey in its entirety as well as adjacent areas of New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Maryland. Produced with military users in mind, it places great emphasis on roads, […]

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The finest early plan of St. Augustine

St. Augustine was founded by the Spanish in 1565 and today is the oldest continuously-occupied town in the continental United States. As the capital of Florida and the Spanish settlement in closest proximity to England’s American colonies, it was much fought over during the intervening centuries, until at the end of the French and Indian […]

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Rare plan of Archibald Campbell’s Georgia Campaign of 1778

The only published map depicting the opening of the British southern offensive of 1778. Background By mid-1778 the war in the Middle and Northern Colonies was going poorly for the British. Burgoyne’s army had surrendered at Saratoga, Commander-in-Chief Henry Clinton had felt compelled to evacuate Philadelphia to reinforce New York, and the Americans had entered […]

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Charming allegorical map on a hand fan

An extremely rare 18th-century hand fan featuring an allegorical map. The map depicts the route of a voyage beginning at “Dark Bay,” crossing “The Great Ocean of Experience,” and terminating at the “Land of Knowledge.” Along the way the voyager passes, among other obstacles, the “Rocks of Obstinacy and Idleness,” the “Coast of Ignorance,” “Dissipation Island,” […]

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“The most detailed and informative” map of the Battle of Bunker Hill

A 1793 re-issue of William Faden’s important plan of the Battle of Bunker Hill, described by Nebenzahl as “the most detailed and informative delineation of this battle.” The battle was occasioned after the Americans fortified Breed’s Hill (here incorrectly labeled Bunker Hill on this map) in Charlestown early on the morning of June 17, 1775. The […]

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The first naval battle of the Revolution-Benedict Arnold’s “finest hour”

One of the rarest of the Faden battle plans, depicting the remarkable naval battle at Valcour Island in October of 1776. Though a severe tactical defeat for the Americans, it forced British General Guy to abandon his invasion of the Northern Colonies. Background Rather than reinvent the wheel, we borrow Nebenzahl’s explanation of the battle’s significance: […]

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The Battle of Yorktown

A desirable impression of this rare battle plan, on heavy paper with wide margins. At the Battle of Yorktown a British army under General Cornwallis was besieged by a Franco-American force under Generals Washington and Rochambeau, reinforced by a French fleet controlling the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. The siege resulted in Cornwallis’ surrender on October 19, […]

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Washington’s victory at the Battle of Trenton

The only contemporary plan of one of General Washington’s masterstrokes, the crossing of the Delaware to attack the British at the Battle of Trenton and the follow-up success at Princeton. By December 1776, the American Army was in desperate straits. Driven from New York by the British the previous September then pursued across New Jersey, Washington […]

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Washington crosses the Delaware

The only contemporary plan of an iconic event in American history. By December 1776, the American Army was in desperate straits. Driven from New York by the British the previous September, then pursued across New Jersey, General Washington had taken refuge in Pennsylvania on the west bank of the Delaware. The Americans seemed on the verge […]

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