Colonial and Revolutionary American Maps (and a few more) from Arader Galleries
John Andrews' A New Map of the British Colonies in North America, Shewing the Seat of the Present War, represents the end of an era. The date is 1781, which saw the fighting of the American Revolution end and the thirteen colonies effectively gain their independence. In the pre-independence days, there were more than thirteen colonies, as England's North American empire extended from Newfoundland to the Bahamas. The next generation of maps would now refer to thirteen of those colonies as the "United States."
Here is a map that recorded the beginning of the era which closed after Andrews' map. This is A New Map, or Chart in Mercator's Projection of the Western or Atlantic Ocean, with Part of Europe, Africa and America. The date is 1763, and it marks the geographic changes resulting from the just concluded French and Indian War. Canada and the lands east of the Mississippi, were ceded to the British, while the land west of that river, also known as Louisiana, has been given to the Spanish. In a bit of honesty, the cartographer describes this area as "country not particularly known." The poor French were left with a few Caribbean islands and some fishing rights in Canada. However, New Orleans is still colored as French, an evident error by the artist who must have confused its French culture with legal possession.
For those who collect the great explorer Captain Cook, A General Chart of the Island of Newfoundland is a great addition. In the days before James Cook began his momentous three voyages, he was sent to Canada to map the coast of Newfoundland. This was needed to determine where the French retained fishing rights. Cook completed his survey between 1763 and 1767, and gained much of his surveying skill during this project. This map was originally published in 1770, the year Cook left on his first voyage. This edition was published in 1775, and while it shows little of the interior of the island, it shows the coasts in great detail and as accurately as had been displayed at the time.
The Russian Discoveries, from the Map Published by the Imperial Academy of St. Petersburg, is a much revealing map with regards to geographic knowledge in the 18th century. Published in London in 1775, but based on Russian mapping, Russia, up to the Bering Strait, is shown in great detail, even the north coast. Once crossing the strait to America, the detail is replaced with undifferentiated, smooth coastline offering limited resemblance to what is really there. The north coast of North America in particular is very generalized, as this was unknown at the time. However, at least the Russians did not invent features as so many westerners did as they attempted to show a northwest passage, which they were convinced existed, though they had no evidence.
A New and Exact Map of the Dominions of the King of Great Britain on Ye Continent of North America is neither new nor exact, but is still very good for its date - 1715. This was the first large-scale map to show English developments in North America. It also delineates boundaries between English and French territories as they existed prior to the French and Indian War. The map includes several insets, most notable, a drawing of Niagara Falls. This image is taken from Father Hennepin’s 17th century work on North America, except that some beavers have been added to the foreground, perhaps reflecting the importance of the beaver pelt trade of the era.
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