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Mathew Carey's General Atlas


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Maps by Mathew Carey. From various atlases. Philadelphia: M. Carey, 1795-1818. Engravings. Very good condition, except as noted.

A very important group of early maps of American states and territories by Mathew Carey, one of the seminal figures in early American Cartography. These maps are from various editions of Carey's Atlas which represented the best American cartographic work of the period. Carey's Atlas was originally issued in 1795 to accompany the American edition of Guthrie's Geography Improved, and it was subsequently issued into the early nineteenth century. Mathew Carey, an Irish immigrant, stands at the forefront of American cartography, for he established the first American specialized cartographic publishing firm. In and around Philadelphia, Carey set up an elaborate cottage system of craftsmen for engraving, printing, and coloring his maps, utilizing the best independent artists directed to a common end. Carey is important, then, for setting the pattern of American map publishing, to be followed by the likes of John Melish and Henry S. Tanner.

Not only was Carey's organization important, but his maps are some of the best issued around the turn of the century during the first decades of the United States. His maps wonderfully document the amazing development of the nascent nation, showing the political, social and economic development of the states and territories. Having access to the best information available on a timely basis, as well as using the best American craftsmen of the period, Carey's maps are shining examples of the high level of American cartography at the time.



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