18th Century Maps, Copperplate, Engraving, Maps

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.)


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