Rare Book Monthly

Articles - January - 2020 Issue

Richard Blome, Mapping Jamaica And Other Territories

4a871ac6-411e-4c2a-a52e-f360d4d23125

A map of Carolina.

Richard Blome’s Description of Jamaica; with the other Isles and Territories in America to Which the English Are Related... (London, 1672) is a book of exception. Although a long time Jamaica specialist, I’ve only held two copies so far, including the National Library of Jamaica’s, in Kingston, Jamaica—two are currently listed on the Internet for around $15,000. This small book was published 12 years after the English captured the island (1655), and it aimed at attracting new settlers to the British colonies in the New World. This political touristic guide captured the fledgling settlements in their prime—with words... and maps!

 

Although described as an in-8 volume, it’s rather an in-12 (title page, 3 pages, 192 pages, 3 folding maps) published in 1672 by Richard Blome (1635-1705). According to Ashley Baynton-Williams (mapforum.com), Blome was “one of the most interesting, and most active, publishers of illustrated books in post-Restoration London—but he was no traveller. Thus he relied upon “notes from my honoured friend Sir Thomas Lynch Knight, about the description of the island of Jamaica, whose worth and ingenuity hath lately merited from His Majesty the government of the said isle.” Thomas Lynch knew Jamaica well, indeed. After the untimely sack of Panama by the Jamaican buccaneer Henry Morgan—war with Spain had just ended—, he was sent to replace Governor Thomas Modyford, and to put an end to buccaneering. This was but a political move and the said Modyford was actually involved in the writing of this “small treatise” dedicated to Charles II—this partly explains the special attention paid to Jamaica (64 pages out of 192), but not only. The island then occupied a crucial geopolitical position in the New World, being the stronghold of the dreaded buccaneers; as such, it was at the heart of the negotiations with Spain. With the Treaty of Madrid (1670), not only did the Spaniards officially cede Jamaica to the English, but they also entitled them to trade with their settlements in the New World. Jamaica was becoming a very lucrative trade hub—and it included slave trade, as the Royal African Company was founded in England in 1672. Thus the island was looking for new, and recommendable—meaning no buccaneers—settlers.

 

Richard Blome gives short but instructive descriptions: climate, vegetation, diseases... At times, his indications are almost like a business plan: “I shall (...) give you an account of the management of a Cocoa Walk,” Blome writes, “with a calculation of its costs, and profits, as it was lately estimated by (...) Sir Thomas Modyford.” 600 acres of land, 6 Negroes (3 men and 3 women), 4 white servants, some material, food for everyone—a £257.5 investment was all one needed to make it in Jamaica in 1672. We learn that a Negro slave cost £20 and a good horse £6—Blome here underlines that horses were plenty on the island, and thus quite cheap. In a word, up to natural resources, everything in Jamaica seemed to concur to the wealth of the newcomer—be he white and not poor, that is; else, this little paradise was a tropical hell.

 

Blome’s descriptions of the other colonies such as Barbadoes (sic), Maryland, Carolina, Virginia, New England, etc., are also very interesting, and quite amazing. The time lag makes it almost unreal at times. New York, for instance, has only one considerable town called New Amsterdam, located “in a small isle called Mahatan (sic).” It is “large, containing about five hundred well-built houses.” The “country is also possessed with sundry sorts” of Natives amongst whom “fornication is permitted,” and who “worship the Devil whom they greatly fear.” Three pages only are dedicated to what has become one of the most important cities in the world.

 

The English Short Title Catalogue (British Library) lists three editions of our book for 1672: one “sold by Robert Clavel,” a next one “by J. Williams”, and the last one “by the booksellers of London, and Westminster.” This is the same edition with different title pages; and it actually came in 1673. “An advertisement in March 1673,” Ashley Banton-Williams writes, “announced that it would not be available until Easter of that year.” It was reprinted in 1678 together with The Present State of Algiers by Dorman Newman (the edition of the National Library of Jamaica) and in 1687; the latter under the title The Present State Of His Majesties Isles And Territories In America, “with the text greatly expanded, and adding a set of maps acquired from Morden, previously used in the First Edition of the latter's Geography Rectified (London, 1680),” Banton-Williams underlines. It was translated into French in 1688 as L’Amérique Angloise... (Amsterdam), with seven maps—4 signed Morden, and 3 carefully copied from the originals.

 

No matter how exciting the reading, the true value if this book lies in its three folding maps. “A new & exact mapp of y. isle of Jamaica” was engraved by Hollar after the map Novassima & Accuratissima Jamaicae Descriptio by John Ogilby (1671), “the prototype of most of the early maps of the island.” (National Library of Jamaica). According to the Royal Collection Trust, it was printed separately by Blome as soon as 1671. “A Generall Mapp of Carolina, Describing Its Sea, Coast and Rivers” is, Ashley Banton-Williams saysthe second printed map of the English Colony of Carolina, pre-dated only by the rare Robert Horne map of 1666.” As far as “Draught of the Sea Coast and Rivers, of Virginia, Maryland, and New England” is concerned, it isthe first English map to illustrate the middle and north-eastern colonies.” In The Mapping of North America (1996), Philip D. Burden explains: “This map is important as it illustrates the region just prior to the great expansion of cartographic knowledge which would commence with the Augustine Herman VIRGINIA AND MARYLAND map of 1673[74] and the John Seller map of New England in 1676.

 

Blome’s work wasn’t that appreciated at the time. “Unfortunately, judgements passed by (...) early commentators on one of Blome's principal publications, the Britannia... (Atlas) have oft been repeated as summaries of Blome's career,” Banton-Williams deplores. Bishop W. Nicholson was the most virulent of all, calling it “a most notorious piece of theft out of Camden and Speed—two other cartographers.”

 

No matter what Bishop Nicholson said 300 years ago—today, these maps determine the value of this book. As a matter of fact, a copy was listed on eBay.com a few weeks ago: nicely bound in contemporary—or 18th century—full leather binding, good to very good condition. And this $15,000 book sold for a few hundred bucks—oh yeah, I forgot to mention: the three maps were missing.

 

Thibault Ehrengardt

Rare Book Monthly

  • <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Abraham Lincoln, <i>Emancipation Proclamation by the President of the United States,</i> pamphlet, 1862. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the distinguished Ruby-Jackson family, Portland, Maine, 1853-1961. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Family papers of the Confederate Vice President Alexander Stephens & the persons who served him, 1866-1907. $25,000 to $35,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Autograph book with inscriptions by orators Moses Roper & Peter Williams, 1821-54. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Archive of letters, postcards, and greeting cards sent by Romare Bearden, 1949-87. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br>E. Simms Campbell, <i>A Night-Club Map of Harlem,</i> in inaugural issue of Manhattan, 1933. $10,000 to $15,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Papers of the comedian Nipsey Russell, including a letter from MLK, 1929-2000. $6,000 to $9,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Early German-American anti-slavery broadside, <i>Sclaven-Handel,</i> Philadelphia, 1794. $12,000 to $18,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Edmonia Lewis, prominent sculptor, carte-de-visite by Henry Rocher, c. 1866-71. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b><br><i>The Black Panther: Black Community News Service,</i> 44 issues, San Francisco, 1967-1971. $3,000 to $4,000.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> Ernest Withers, <i>I Am A Man, Sanitation Workers Strike,</i> silver print, 1968. $5,000 to $7,500.
    <b>Swann Auction Galleries:</b> <i>March For Freedom Now!,</i> poster for the 1960 Republican Convention. $4,000 to $6,000.
  • <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rackham (Arthur). The Old Hag Standing Outside a Cottage, original drawing, signed by the artist, [c.1909]. £10,000 to £15,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Rowling (J.K.) <i>Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone,</i> FIRST EDITION, first printing, signed by the author, original pictorial wrappers, 1997. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Castiglione (Giuseppe, after). Twelve plates from <i>Twenty views of the European Palaces of the Yuanming yuan,</i> 1783-1786. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Antiphonal.- Antiphonal manuscript, [Spain], ca. 1650. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Almanach de Gotha.- Almost complete run 1769 to 1945, 12mo & 8vo, Gotha, C.W. Ettinger [- Justus Perthes]. £4,000 to £6,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Bible, Greek.- New Testament [Greek], Novum Iesu Christi D.N. testamentum, ex bibliotheca regia, 2 parts in one, Robert Estienne, Paris, 1550. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Lithgow (William). <i>The Total Discourse of the rare Adventures… from Scotland, to the most famous kingdoms in Europe, Asia, and Affrica…,</i> woodcut illustrations, 4to, I. Oakes, 1640. £2,000 to £3,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Spanish Interest.-16th -18th Century. Large collection of letters related to prominent members of the Spanish court and clergymen,; v.s., late 16th-mid 18th century. £1,800 to £2,200.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Darwin (Charles). <i>The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,</i> 2 vol., FIRST EDITION, first issue8vo, John Murray, 1871. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <center><b>Chiswick Auctions<br>Books & Works on Paper<br>Including Autographs & Memorabilia<br>31 March 2020</b>
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Loewy (Raymond) ARR. Mickey Mouse, original gouache and air brush illustration of Mickey Mouse, signed by artist., n.p. [1946]. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Potter (Beatrix) & Sendak (Maurice). <i>The Tale of Peter Rabbit,</i> NUMBER 2 OF 250 SIGNED COPIES, WITH AN ORIGINAL DRAWING BY SENDAK, New York, 1995. £1,500 to £2,000.
    <b>Chiswick Auctions, Mar. 31:</b> Wolstenholm (Jonathan) ARR. Books on Books, original watercolor, signed and dated by the artist, 2005.
  • <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> MITCHELL, John (1711-1768). A Map of the British and French Dominions in North America. Copperplate engraving with original hand color. London, 1755. $250,000 to $350,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Brown Pelican (Standing), Plate 251. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $175,000 to $225,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Fish Hawk or Osprey, Plate 81. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London: 1827-1838. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> GONZALES DE MENDOZA, Juan (1545 - 1618). <i>The Historie of the great and mightie kingdome of China…</i> London, 1588. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> VERBIEST, Ferdinand (1623-1688). [World Map] Kun-Yu Ch'uan-Tu. Engraved twelve sheet map with vertical sections joined to form six sheets. Korea, Seoul, c. 1860. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> SANGGI, Chong (1678-1752). Korean Atlas. Manuscript map on mulberry bark paper. C. 1750-1790. $100,000 to $150,000.
    <center><b>Arader Galleries<br>April Auction<br>April 4, 2020</b>
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AUDUBON, John James (1785 - 1851). Ivory-billed Woodpecker, Plate 66. Aquatint engraving with original hand color. London, 1827-1838. $80,000 to $120,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> AKERMAN, Anders (1721-1778). & AKREL, Frederik (1779-1868). Pair of Celestial and Terrestrial Globes. Stockholm, c. 1800. 23 inch diameter, each. $60,000 to $100,000.
    <b>Arader Galleries, Apr. 4:</b> BENNETT, Lieut. William Pyt (d. in action, 1916). AN IMPORTANT AND APPARENTLY UNPUBLISHED SERIES OF GELATIN SILVER PHOTOGRAPHS OF LHASA AND TIBET TAKEN DURING THE CELEBRATED YOUNGHUSBAND MISSION OF 1904. $60,000 to $80,000

Article Search

Archived Articles

Ask Questions