‘…A Compendious Description of the West-Indies’

By JEFFERYS, [Thomas], 1780 
£55,000

The West India Atlas or, A Compendious Description of the West-Indies; Illustrated with Forty Correct Charts and Maps, Taken from Actual Surveys. Together with An Account of the Several Countries and Islands which compose that part of the World: Their discovery, situation, extent, boundaries, product, trade, inhabitants, strength, government, religion &c. By the Late Thomas Jefferys, Geographer to the King.

America North America
  • Author: JEFFERYS, [Thomas]
  • Publication place: London
  • Publisher: Printed for Robert Sayer and John Bennett, Fleet Street
  • Publication date: 1780 [–1782].
  • Physical description: Folio. Double-page engraved additional title-page, vignette dedication leaf, 28 pages of text, 37 double-page and 3 full-page engraved charts, half calf, marbled boards, gilt, recased.
  • Dimensions: 540 by 390mm. (21.25 by 15.25 inches).
  • Inventory reference: 2589

Notes

Folio. Double-page engraved additional title-page, vignette dedication leaf, 28 pages of text, 37 double-page and 3 full-page engraved charts, half calf, marbled boards, gilt, recased, and some side margins expertly extended.

540 by 390mm. (21.25 by 15.25 inches)

The atlas, first published in 1778, was designed to aid the highly lucrative sugar trade, which by this point accounted for around one-fifth of all imports to Europe, eighty percent of which was supplied by French and British colonies in the West Indies. Unfortunately, Europe’s insatiable desire for sugar drove a viler – although no less lucrative – trade: that of the trafficking of slaves from the west coast of Africa to the Caribbean plantations. It is estimated that by the time the atlas was published, some 400,000 enslaved people were at work in the British Caribbean colonies.

Unfortunately, Thomas Jefferys would not live to see the publication of his West Indian Atlas’, and it was left to Robert Sayer who, in partnership with John Bennett, acquired his materials and published the atlas posthumously under Jefferys’ name. The work was evidently a commercial success as there were five subsequent editions under the Sayer and Bennett imprint.

In 1794 an expanded and modified version with 61 plates was published under Sayer’s sole imprint. In the same year Laurie & Whittle acquired Sayer’s plates, and they published a further version with the same title page, but with their imprint.

The charts:

A Chart of the British Channel; Comprehending the Southern Coasts of England and Wales: with the Coast of France, from Dunkirk to the River of Nantes…’, 20 Feb.y, 1782, double-page

A Chart of the Atlantic Ocean I. Sheet’, 20 Feb.y, 1782, double-page

Chart of the Acores (Hawks) Islands, also called Flemish and Western Islands’, 20 Feb.y, 1782, double-page

A Chart of the Maderas and Canary Islands…’, 20 Feb.y, 1782, double-page

The Cape Verd Islands’, 20 Feb.y, 1782, full-page

The Bermudas of Summer Islands’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

An Index map to the following sixteen sheets, being A Compleat Cart of the West Indies’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page




The Western Coast of Louisiana and the Coast of New Leon’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Coast of West Florida and Louisiana’, double-page

The Peninsula and Gulf of Florida or Channel of Bahama with the Bahama Islands’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Coast of Mexico from Laguna de Esmotes to Punta Brava’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Coast of Yucatan from Campeche to Bahia del Ascension; with the West End of Cuba’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Island of Cuba with part of the Bahama Banks & the Martyrs’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Windward Passage, with the several Passages, from the East End of Cuba, and the North part of St. Domingo’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Coastline of New Spain from Neuva Vera Cruz to Triste Island’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Bay of Honduras’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page, margins extended
The Island of Jamaica and Cape Gracias a Dios with the Banks’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

South part of St. Domingo, or Hispaniola’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Caribbee Islands, the Virgin Islands, and the Isle of Porto Rico’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Part of the Provinces of Costa Rica and Nicaragua with the Lagunas’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page



The Isthmus of Panama with the Coast from Great River on the Moskito Shore to Cartagena’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Coast of Tierra Firma from Cartagena to Golfo Triste’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Coast of Caracas, Cumana, Paria and the Mouths of Rio Orinoco …’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Jamaica’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Ruatan…’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

The Virgin Islands’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

St. Christopher’s, or St. Kitts…’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Antigua’, double-page

Guadaloupe’, double-page

Dominica’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Martinico’, double-page

St. Lucia’, double-page

Barbadoes’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

St. Vincent’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Bequia or Becouya’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, full-page

Grenada’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Tobago’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

Turks Islands’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, full-page

Curacao’, 20 Feb.y, 1775, double-page

A New chart of the Coast of Guayana from Rio Orinoco to River Berbice,..’ 1 June 1781, double-page

Bibliography

  1. David Gestetner, Thomas Jefferys: The West India Atlas, 1775’, Map Forum 8 (2005) pp. 30–35. State 3.
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