Pownall, Thomas | One of the primary cartographic works of the Revolutionary era
18,000 - 25,000 USD
A Topographical Description of Such Parts of North America as are Contained in the (Annexed) Map of the Middle British Colonies, &c in North America. London: Printed for J. Almon, 1776
Folio (417 x 248 mm). Folding engraved map on two joined sheets by Lewis Evans, revised by Pownall, partially handcolored in outline; occasional light soiling and staining to text, chiefly marginal, map with faintest wear to intersecting folds. Contemporary calf-backed marbled boards, spine gilt with green morocco label, green edges, plain endpapers; very neatly rebacked preserving original spine, corners restored.
The best picture of the interior of North America as it was understood in the year of American Independence. In 1753, Thomas Pownall came to America as the private secretary to Sir Danvers Osborn, the newly appointed colonial governor of New York. Shortly after arriving, however, Osborn died, leaving Pownall without a post. Curious about the colonies, Pownall remained in America, travelling widely in the region and meeting many of the most influential men in America at that time, including Benjamin Franklin. From this relationship, he was able to attend the 1754 Albany Conference and became involved in Indian affairs in the colony. Through that work and his relationship with Franklin, Pownall met surveyor Lewis Evans, who in 1755, published his celebrated "Map of the Middle British Colonies," printed by Franklin and dedicated to Pownall (see lot 155). Evans's map, the most accurate of the region at the time, was enormously influential, with multiple piracies being issued in London; it was famously used by General Braddock during the French and Indian War.
Much of the cartography of the western parts of Evans's original map remains unchanged in the 1776 Pownall revision—printed from Evans's original copperplate with substantial alterations—but east of Philadelphia, Pownall has extended the plate to encompass all of New England, with the coast as far north as Nova Scotia. The cartography of this portion is derived from a number of sources, but includes Pownall's own explorations into the interior of Vermont and Maine, as well as the surveys conducted on behalf of Massachusetts Colonial Governor Sir Francis Bernard. The one significant update to the western portion of the map is the addition of the exploring routes of Christopher Gist and Harry Gordon. Gist's journal of his 1750–1751 travels through Ohio, Kentucky, and North Carolina is also printed here for the first time, appearing in the appendix with memoirs of other frontier explorers.
First edition, with a fine copy of the map.
Celebration of My Country 60; Buck, Illinois 28a; ESTC T97733; Howes P543; Revolutionary Hundred 40; Sabin 64835; Streeter sale 2:826; Thomson, Ohio 940; Vail, Old Frontier 651
Condition as described in catalogue entry.
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