JOHN REID’S AMERICAN ATLAS, WITH EARLY WASH COLOR
The American Atlas; containing the following maps... New-York: Published by John Reid, Bookseller and Stationer, No. 106, Water-Street. 1796.
Folio. 21 maps with early wash color. Period calf over boards, with front paper label. Split at fold of Map of North America, some chipping to spine and other signs of wear to binding, but overall a superb example. Early bookplate of “Jonathan Harmer … 1800”.
Published in 1796, this atlas by John Reid is one of the rarest and most interesting of the American atlases, preceded only by the 1795 Carey atlas as the earliest atlas printed in the United States. This is a particularly fine example in a period binding, with some early color, and containing the rare folding plan of Washington, which is often lacking. In 1795, an Englishman named William Winterbotham issued An Historical, Geographical, Commercial, and Philosophical View of the United States of America in four volumes. Winterbotham’s work, published in London, was accompanied by An American Atlas consisting of nine regional maps of America by John Russell. The following year, a New York bookseller named John Reid issued an American edition, accompanied by a more substantial American Atlas containing twenty-one maps. Six of these (North America, South America, The West Indies, United States, Kentucky, and Washington DC) were largely taken from Russell, but the others were new works. Reid was greatly influenced by Mathew Carey, whose atlas had been published the previous year. Reid improves on Carey through the addition of one of the earliest printed plans of Washington, adapted from Ellicott’s 1792 official plan of the city, and here present in Wheat & Brun’s state 2, #538. Though Philadelphia was the center of most American mapmaking in the 18th century Reid’s atlas was published in New York and when issued it was only the second American atlas published in this country. Carey seems to have had better commercial instincts. While his atlas went into further editions, this is the only edition of Reid’s work and its considerable scarcity seems to indicate that it was not a commercial success.
Inventory No. 13408