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New Catalogue XV

New Catalogue XV

“The cause of America is in a great measure the cause of all mankind” (Thomas Paine, ‘Common Sense’, 1775-1776).

Welcome to catalogue XV, published to coincide with the first anniversary of the opening of our shop in New York; hence the distinct American flavour - or should we say flavor - with almost a third of the items pertaining to the New World.

The birth of the printed map in Europe, in the last quarter of the fifteenth century, acted as a catalyst for the Age of Discovery. Columbus is known to have owned an edition of Ptolemy’s ‘Geographia’, published in Rome (item 2), before he set off to discover the New World. These voyages in turn would challenge the classical view of the world, set out by Ptolemy, and later editions of his work would include: the first obtainable map to show America (item 3); the first map devoted entirely to the New World (item 5); and the first atlas map to name America (item 6).

Throughout the following two centuries cartographic knowledge of America would make great strides, and would be reflected in the maps of the Lafreri School (items 29 and 30), Ortelius (item 9), and Dudley (item 32). Although Briggs’ map (item 31), which depicts California as an island for the first time, was, in hindsight, an aberration.

With the formal establishment of colonies, such as New Jersey (item 33) and New Hampshire at the end of the seventeenth century; mapping turned to the demarcation of the provinces, with surveys carried out by mapmakers such as Franklin (item 24), Blanchard (item 38), and Yonge (item 39).

The pride which these surveys proclaimed, together with a minor disagreement regarding taxation and representation, led to the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. The war’s progress, from Boston to Yorktown, can be seen, in great detail, in works by Des Barres (item 40), Williams (item 41), and Bauman (item 42), the latter of which shows the final triumph of the American rebels. The subsequent treaty would formally bring the United States of America into existence. One of the first people to record this momentous act on a map was the English mapmaker John Cary (item 42); a map that presaged “manifest destiny” and the expansion of the fledgling state from the Atlantic to the Pacific:

“it is impossible not to look forward to distant times when our rapid multiplication will expand itself beyond those limits, and cover the whole northern, if not the southern continent.” (Thomas Jefferson, ‘Correspondence with James Monroe’, 1801).

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