EARLY EXAMPLE OF COLONIAL MAPMAKING
ALEXANDER, JAMES / EVANS, LEWIS
[Untitled map of Northern New Jersey and New York City] [in cartouche at lower left:] Map No. II Laid down by a scale of five miles to an inch. Engrav’d by James Turner near the Town House Boston… from A Bill in Chancery of New Jersey. “Printed by James Parker, and a few copies are to be sold by him, and Benjamin Franklin, in Philadelphia, 1747.”
17” x 13-5/8”. Uncolored copperplate engraving. Some remargining, not affecting engraved surface. Very good condition.
This is an extremely early example of American cartographic engraving and printing. It is the first map of New Jersey published in the English colonies. The map also includes New York City and Harbor.
The map’s production was a collaboration between a number of eighteenth century American artisans and intellectuals, including Benjamin Franklin, whose name appears on the title-page of the Bill in Chancery where the map appeared; Lewis Evans, the first important mapmaker in the English colonies; James Alexander, Attorney-General and Surveyor-General for New Jersey; and James Turner, Boston silversmith and engraver.
The map was one of three included in the Bill in Chancery, which relates to “one of the most famous controversies in the early history of New Jersey” -- Felcone. It arose out of a dispute between the Proprietors of East Jersey and settlers, whose claims predated the establishment of the proprietorship. The Proprietors brought suit and engaged Alexander to prepare the complex legal case and oversee the production of the accompanying maps.
In 1746 Alexander arranged to have two hundred and fifty copies of the bill printed. Alexander made rough drafts illustrating the areas in dispute, and arranged for Lewis Evans to adapt these maps into more polished manuscript inserts, which were to be in Evans’ own hand. Klinefelter notes that Alexander selected Evans on Franklin’s advice, and that “the intimate knowledge that Evans gained of a sizeable area” was instrumental for the construction of his landmark map of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, published in 1749.
Despite Alexander’s initial conclusion that the maps “could not be had in this country otherwise than by hand, ” six months later he commissioned James Turner to engrave them on copper. Once again the guiding hand in the decision seems to have been Benjamin Franklin’s. Turner had worked for Franklin as early as 1744, and under Franklin’s influence, moved to Philadelphia in 1754, where he engraved landmark maps for Lewis Evans, Nicholas Scull and Joshua Fisher. Turner apparently based his engravings on Evans’ manuscripts.
Wheat & Brun, Maps & Charts Published in America before 1800, 397; Klinefelter, Lewis Evans & His Maps, p. 17; Snyder, Mapping of New Jersey, p. 40. See also Pritchard & Taliaferro, Degrees of Latitude, 28. For Turner, see Kreiger & Cobb, Mapping Boston, pp. 49-50.
Inventory No. 7734