One of the most famous of American maps, and the finest eighteenth century map of Virginia and Maryland. The map was commissioned by the English Lords of Trade as part of the comprehensive mapping of the British colonies undertaken in the middle of the eighteenth century. The surveyors were Peter Jefferson, Thomas' father, and Joshua Fry, a mathematician at the College of William and Mary and Thomas Jefferson's tutor, who had already taken a number of important surveying commissions in Virginia. The map was based on their own surveys of the interior together with other first-hand information. Fry and Jefferson finished their map in 1751 and then revised it a few years later to incorporate information from John Dalrymple and others concerning the western part of the colony. The resulting map was by the far the best of Virginia to date and the first to accurately map beyond the Chesapeake Bay region and into the Appalachian mountains. This map was thus a watershed in the history of the mapping of Virginia and remained the prototype for the region for the second half of the century. Not only was it the first map to show the western parts of the colony, but it was the first to depict the road system in the colony. In the lower right is a lovely title cartouche showing a harbor scene on the Chesapeake and a tobacco warehouse, a vignette that has earned its own place in American iconography.
Though dated in the map 1751-the date the manuscript was finished-the first issue of the map was probably published about 1753 and was titled "A Map of the Inhabited part of Virginia…" It is exceedingly rare, with only a few complete copies known to exist. It was shortly after this issue that Fry and Jefferson updated the depiction of the western parts of the map, making a number of changes to produce what they called the "second edition" of 1755. This second edition was actually the fourth state, with two other intermediary states showing different stages in the modification of the geographic rendering on the map, as well as the change of the title to now read "A Map of the most Inhabited part of Virginia" (emphasis added). No more geographic changes were made, but the map went through four more editions with the date changed to 1768, 1775, 1782, and finally 1794. The issue of 1775, of which this is a fine example, was published for Thomas Jefferys' important America Atlas, which contained examples of the many great maps of the American colonies that resulted from the mid-century mapping undertaken by the British. $40,000
John J. Barralet. "America Guided by Wisdom: An Allegorical representation of the United States, denoting their Independence and Prosperity." Philadelphia, ca. 1815. First state, previous to Stauffer, 3115. Engraving by Benjamin Tanner. 15 1/8 x 22 3/8. Good impression. Trimmed to platemark as usual. Very good condition. Fowble, 324.
The War of 1812 has often been called the "Second War of Independence," especially at the time. Following a series of naval victories and battles at Baltimore and New Orleans, Americans were infused with a new optimism based on a peace treaty that arranged for them to be left alone to develop their new country. This print uses symbols of republican virtues to express pride in the new country. Six lines of descriptive text explain that the focus is on Minerva, Goddess of Wisdom, who points to an escutcheon of the United States with the motto "Union and Independence," emblazoned on a shield held by America. Thrown down at their feet and behind them is a spear and shield with the visage of Medusa. To the right of this vignette is an equestrian statue of Washington at the entrance of a grand temple. To the left the god Mercury, representing commerce, points to proudly sailing ships to indicate his approval to the goddess Ceres, who holds wheat (a symbol of agriculture), while to her back are symbols of American industry: spinning, beekeeping, and plowing. This is a rich allegory to describe America.
We date this print at 1815 because that year marked the end of the War of 1812, and the message is appropriate for that time. Also, in that year Benjamin Tanner (1775-1848) entered a partnership with Vallance, Kearney & Company whose names are added to a later state of this print as described by David M. Stauffer. So the imprint, as well as the wonderfully strong lines, suggests that this printing is a first state. This print is after a drawing by John James Barralet (ca. 1747-1815), an Irish artist who came to Philadelphia about 1795. He had established a reputation as a landscape and historical artist in Dublin and London. When Barralet first arrived in Philadelphia he was hired as an engraver by Alexander Lawson and soon took up painting landscapes in and around Philadelphia. Among American engravers, Barralet is credited with inventing a ruling machine for work on bank notes. $3,200
Go to page with featured maps
Go to our HIDDEN GEMS page
Sign up for our newsletter
Your welcome message will include a $20 coupon towards a purchase of $100 or more.
For more information call, write, fax or e-mail to:
8441 Germantown Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19118
(215) 242-4750 [Phone]
(215) 242-6977 [Fax]
©The Philadelphia Print Shop, Ltd. Last updated February 28, 2015