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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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1781 William Faden plan of the Battle of Yorktown

The first published map of the Battle of Yorktown

A cartographic rarity of the American Revolution, being the first printed plan of the Battle of Yorktown, published in 1781 within weeks of Cornwallis’ surrender. “The timeliness of this engraving, in addition to the clear picture it renders of the beginning of the end in Virginia, helps make it an exciting document.” (Nebenzahl, Atlas of […]

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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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A superb plan of Newport, Rhode Island

The most detailed plan of Newport made during the the Revolutionary War. Description This plan depicts the town of Newport and its harbor in immense detail. Numerous quays jut into the harbour along the length of Thames Street, evidence that up until the Revolution this was one of colonial America’s leading ports. Every street is […]

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One of the best early maps of the Hudson River, with the original slipcase.

This lovely large-scale map depicts the Hudson River-Lake George-Lake Champlain corridor, the key invasion route between Canada and the Middle Colonies during the Colonial era. The major waterways and their tributaries are shown in great detail, including depth soundings as far North as Albany and navigational hazards on Lake Champlain. Hachuring is indicates elevations along […]

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Faden plan of the Battle of Bennington

This battle plan was issued in General John Burgoyne’s State of the Expedition from Canada, his famous defense against charges of mismanaging the disastrous British expedition from Canada in the Summer-Fall of 1777. It was drawn by an officer present on the scene, then engraved and printed by the Faden firm in London. The expedition […]

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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 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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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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