Category Archives: 18th Century Maps

October 2013 Showcase- Read it Now!

Our new October 2013 Showcase has been sent out to our mailing list, and should hit mailboxes this week. The catalog features a wide range of prints and maps- striking portraits of American revolutionary heroes, important early maps and views of the Americas and Holy Land, traditional fall hunting scenes, and a sampling of contemporary and early 20th century prints from our two most recent shows, PER-FORM and Alessandro Mastro-Valerio: A Retrospective.

Published in both traditional and digital media forms, we are now able to share our fantastic collection in a whole new way.  We are already working on our next issue, just in time for the holidays. To receive our next Showcase, just send us your mailing information, via email.

Read the October Showcase:

The Old Print Gallery Showcase. October 2013. CLICK TO READ!

The Old Print Gallery Showcase.
October 2013.

We hope you enjoy it!

Past/Present: Maps of Mexico

Today, our Past/Present post features two maps of Mexico. The older map is by Antonio Zatta, the most prominent Italian 18th and early 19th century publisher of maps. Based out of Venice, Zatta created maps that harmoniously merged the two very different cartographic styles of the time. He updated and redefined the traditional title cartouche by replacing the mythic elements common to the 17th and 18th century with more representative images. A beautiful balance of art and information, Zatta’s maps contained many decorative elements, such as figurative depictions, on the map itself, while striving for the accuracy that his more scientifically-focused 19th century clientele demanded. In addition to depicting Mexico, Zatta’s map includes Baja California, Texas and the American Southeast, much of which was still controlled by Spain.

The 19th century map is by J.H. Colton, a New York based publisher who started selling maps in 1833. In the beginning, Colton built his business by purchasing plates and copyrights from cartographers like Burr and updating the details and borders. He also worked hard to produce railroad maps and guidebooks, which were immensely popular. Colton’s sons joined his business in the early 1850s. His older son, G. W. Colton, trained as a cartographer and engraver, and was particularly enthused about creating a detailed world atlas to compete with well-established European firms on the U.S. market. In 1855 G.W. Colton issued the impressive two-volume Colton’s Atlas of the World. His slightly smaller one-volume Colton’s General Atlas, was published in 1857. This map of Mexico is from Colton’s General Atlas and features an inset of the Territory and Isthmus of Tehuantepec. It also has Colton’s trademark spiral motif border.

Image on Left: Messico Ouvero Nuova Spagna che contiene Il Nuovo Messico La California Con Una Parte de’ Paesi Adjacenti. Published by Antonio Zatta, Venice. Copper plate engraving, 1785. Issued in Zatta’s Atlante Novissimo. Engraved by G. Pitteri.

Image on Right: Mexico. Published by J. H. Colton & Company, New York. Hand colored engraving, 1857. From Colton’s General Atlas.



Happy Birthday Pierre Charles L’Enfant

Happy Birthday L’Enfant!

Born on August 2, 1754, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, was a french-born architect and civil engineer who designed the layout for our great Capital city. Where would DC be with out it’s many circles and roundabouts, our grand Pennsylvania avenue, and the national mall? We have L’Enfant to thank for our town’s layout and design…and the many maps that are based off of his plan.


On January 24, 1791, President George Washington announced the Congressionally-designated permanent location of the national capital, a diamond-shaped ten-mile tract at the confluence of the Potomac and Eastern Branch Rivers. The original survey of the 100 square mile diamond shaped “district” was undertaken by Andrew Ellicott and Benjamin Banneker (a free slave). In March of 1791, Major Pierre Charles L’Enfant was appointed by George Washington to prepare the plan for the city itself with Ellicott as his assistant.

His plan specified locations for the “Congress house” , which would be built on Jenkins Hill (now called Capitol Hill), and the “President’s house”, which would be situated on a ridge parallel to the Potomac River. The “President’s house” was originally planned to be several times larger than the actual size of the current White House. He also designed for an special avenue (Pennsylvania Avenue) to connect the Congress house with the President’s house.

The streets in L’Enfant’s plan are laid out on a simple grid, consisting of east-west streets and north-south streets. Avenues running on a diagonal would cross the grid, and intersect with east-west and north-south streets at large circles and rectangular plazas. These open spaces were to be filled with statues commemorating famous and notable Americans, and offer a outdoor place for the public to stroll, meet, and enjoy.

Unfortunately, L’Enfant turned out to be very difficult to work with. Eventually both Washington and Jefferson became disgusted with his obstinacy. He was suspended in 1792 and outright terminated from his post in 1793. Andrew Ellicott took over the project using L’Enfant’s plan as a base.



A Map of the Most Inhabited Part of Virginia

81224A Map of the Most Inhabited part of Virginia containing the whole Province of Maryland with Part of Pensilvania, New Jersey and North Carolina. Drawn by Joshua Fry & Peter Jefferson in 1775. Printed for Robt. Sayer at No. 53 in Fleet Street. Copper plate engraving, 1775, c.1777. Four-sheet map, joined into two sheets. Overall, if joined, 31 x 48 1/4″ plus margins.

This important map of Virginia was commissioned by the English Lords of Trade, who in 1750 required each colony to conduct a comprehensive survey. At the time, the British were facing encroachment on the Virginia frontier by the French. This prompted the need for a more detailed  examination of British lands and holdings. Joshua Fry, a mathematician, and Peter Jefferson, a surveyor and father of Thomas Jefferson, were appointed to execute the commission. The resulting map is highly detailed,with labelled roads, ferry crossings, and settlements. This map was also the first map to depict the general configuration of the Appalachian and Allegheny mountain ranges.

81224 cartouch detailThe details in this map are extensive,  shedding light on the state of trade and development in 18th century Virginia. The map’s cartouche depicts a scene from the Virginia tobacco trade, in which a tobacco planter negotiates with a ship’s captain, while slaves attend and work on the dock-side of what is clearly a busy and prosperous harbor.  In the background, inventory is being checked and accounted for. The cartouche nods to Virginia’s economic dependence on the popular cash-crop, as well as slavery.

81224 map detailBy identifying the major rivers in the Chesapeake area, along with their tentacle-like tributaries which reached far into the heartland of the State, it was made clear that goods could be transported to the major ports and harbors quickly and inexpensively, rather than by more costly overland routes. The chart of distances between towns and settlements was also added for this reason- proving travel information crucial to prospective business and land owners.

81224 rivers roadsThe map was first issued in 1751. Other editions were done in 1755, onward through 1794. This particular map is an unusual, and apparently unrecorded, variant state between the six and seventh states. The sixth state has the 1775 date in the title and Robert Sayer and Tho. Jefferys imprint. The seventh state is noted with an imprint of Sayer & Bennett. This example only notes, “Printed for Robt. Sayer at No. 53 in Fleet Street.” The reference for Jefferys has been burnished out.

The map is in good condition. It has original outline color and early twentieth-century coloring on the cartouche. To purchase it, please visit our website or our Georgetown gallery.

(Click on images above for larger, more detailed views of the map.)

Showing of his wheres

imagesCollector and map enthusiast Dennis Gurtz was featured in the Washington Post Magazine, alongside his impressive collection of maps. We urge our readers to check out the accompanying photo gallery on the Washington Post’s website, where he  shows off the “Arnold” map of Civil War forts in Washington and his Plan of the City of Washington, published in the Universal Asylum and Columbian Magazine in March 1792.

Showing off his wheres.  Washington Post Magazine Article by Kris Coronado, Photographs by Benjamin C. Tankersley.

If you want to start your own Washington DC map collection, make a visit to our shop- we will show you some of the first plans of the city, great 19th century and Civil War era maps, and even some 20th century real estate maps! We even have a Plan of the City of Washington for sale here- so come by and see it in person.

Past/Present: Maps of Italy

past present logo copy

Today we have a Past/Present post featuring maps of Italy. From the mid-15th century to the beginning of the 19th century, the Spanish,  Austrians,  and French fought for control of Italy. After the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, and following many decades of division and war, Italy was finally unified. It became a nation-state in 1861 when the regional states of the peninsula, along with Sardinia and Sicily, were united under King Victor Emmanuel II.

Image on Left: Nuova Carta Generale dell Italia. By Giovanni B. Albrizzi. Published by Giovanni Albrizzi, Venice. Copper plate engraving with original outline hand coloring, 1740. A fine map from “Atlante Novissimo Che Contiene Tutte Le Parti Del Mondo….” This atlas was published in Venice and was based on the work of Isaak Tirion, which in turn was based largely on the work of Guillaume De L’Isle.

Image on Right: Johnson’s Italy. By A. J. Johnson. Published by A. J. Johnson, New York. Hand colored engraving, c. 1864-72. This map was published in  “Johnson’s New Illustrated Family Atlas of the World.” Map includes clearly defined counties and territories. Inset in lower left is of Malta and its Dependencies.



Valentine’s Day Gifts

Still searching for a last-minute Valentine’s Day gift? Don’t know what to get that special someone? Check out our Valentine’s Day gift ideas below:

1. Antique Valentine’s Day Cards

While handmade Valentine’s Day cards were in existence long before, the first printed paper cards made in the United States appeared around 1840. We  have cards with cute sayings, sweet messages, and beautiful hand-cut paper lace. We also sell many stand-up cards with a base and several three-dimensional fold-out layers, which were popular designs from about 1895 until 1915.  Prices start at $15 and go up from there.


My Love to Thee : Unworthy are my hands to hold those dainty hands in mine, : Unworthy are my lips to touch those rosy lips of thine… Paper lace, c.1900.


I Love You. Hang on to me, My Valentine. Die-cut color lithograph. Undated, c.1920.

2. Flower Prints

Give her a bouquet of flowers that will never wilt and die. We have a very large antique print collection of flowers and floral arrangements. Hand colored in nature’s full spectrum and intricately engraved, these prints make a beautiful and thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift!


[Monnoyer Floral Arrangement in Classical Vase]. By Jean Baptiste Monnoyer. Published by N. de Poilly, Paris. Etching with engraving, hand colored, c. 1670-80.


Fritillaria imperialis. Linn. Pl. II. By Pierre Joseph Buchoz. Engraving, hand colored, 1775-78. From Buchoz’ “Histoire Universelle du Regne Vegetale”, published Paris.

3. RED prints

Our new contemporary show, aptly named RED, features prints in this passionate and romantic hue. Pick the bold and pulsating Fast Forward or go with the subdued and modern To be Received Again. The show features a huge range of styles to choose from. And if you are looking for a Valentine’s Day date idea- RED opens on February 15th, with a nighttime reception and party. Interesting art + free wine= great date!

Fast Forward by Rosemary Cooley. Monotype, 2006.

Fast Forward by Rosemary Cooley. Monotype, 2006.

To Be Received Again. By Heather McMordie. Lithograph with collagraph, on Stonehenge paper, 2012. Titled and signed by artist in print.  Edition 2/6. $350.00

To Be Received Again. By Heather McMordie. Lithograph with collagraph, on Stonehenge paper, 2012. Titled and signed by artist in print. Edition 2/6.

4. City Views and Maps

Gift your sweet someone a map or view of a special city. Whether it is of the place you met or married, a shared favorite travel spot, or where you both live (and love), city plans and scenes are a personal and unique gift idea.

Grundriss von Washington der neuen Hauptstadt der vereinigten Staaten von Nord-America. By Andrew Ellicott. From an unidentified German publication. Engraving.

Grundriss von Washington der neuen Hauptstadt der vereinigten Staaten von Nord-America. By Andrew Ellicott. From an unidentified German publication. Engraving.


Le Penseur de Notre Dame. John Taylor Arms. Etching, 1923.

5. Cupid Prints

In classical mythology, Cupid (Latin Cupido, meaning “desire”) is the god of desire, affection and love. Celebrate and pay homage to this winged matchmaker with a print from the 17th century “Amorous Mottoes.”

Omnia fentit Amor.  XIII. By A. Diepenbeke. Published Antwerp. Copper engraving, hand colored, 1660. 17th century Amorous Mottoes, with Latin inscriptions.

Omnia fentit Amor. XIII. By A. Diepenbeke. Published Antwerp. Copper engraving, hand colored, 1660. 17th century Amorous Mottoes, with Latin inscriptions.

Omnibus aptus Amor.  XV. By A. Diepenbeke. Published Antwerp. Copper engraving, hand colored, 1660. 17th century Amorous Mottoes, with Latin inscriptions.

Omnibus aptus Amor. XV. By A. Diepenbeke. Published Antwerp. Copper engraving, hand colored, 1660. 17th century Amorous Mottoes, with Latin inscriptions.