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A Very Rare & Early Map of the English Colonies in North America
East Coast United States & Canada.
MORDEN, R./ BROWNE, C. [London, c. 1695]
A New Map Of The English Empire In America . . . .
19 ¼ x 22 ½ inches
Original outline color; light foxing, reinforced bottom of centerfold; overall very good.
Very rare: One of the earliest maps to focus specifically on the English colonies in North America. Also one of the first to explicitly identify the colonies as part of an English empire.
The map provides an excellent overview of the period when the English coastal colonies had become firmly established, but the interior remained conspicuously undeveloped. However, it is a map whose primary function was to express English imperial ambitions in relation to its North American colonies. For example, the map’s title proclaims an English empire in North America at a time when the very idea of a British empire was still quite new. Nonetheless, this imperial aspiration is reinforced on the map by the richly engraved arms of William and Mary surmounting the cartouche. Further cartographic appropriation of the area is attempted by naming the waters off the coast the Sea of Carolina, the Sea of Virginia, and the Sea of New England. This is one of the few maps on which these names occur. Also, the map offers the implicit but still clear message that a vast amount of unoccupied territory between the coast and the Mississippi River is there for the taking. In this sense, the map served as a prod to create the empire that its title prematurely invokes. A sizable inset map shows colonial North America in a larger context, one that includes the British Isles.
Cumming notes that the map “has a good deal of information for the Carolina coastal region. Its special interest lies in its continued use of the Lederer lake, savanna, and desert, and in its striking delineations of a trident-shaped formation for the Appalachian mountain range, with the handle extending deep into Florida, and the three prongs, separating in western North Carolina, stretching west to the Mississippi, north through the present state of Michigan, and northeast into Pennsylvania.”
There is a small chart of Boston Harbor to the left of the cartouche derived from the Pound map of 1691; this is in fact one of the first printed charts of the harbor. The map was further influential, though not necessarily positively, for its Great Lakes depiction. John Senex republished the map 1719 with little change beyond substituting his imprint for that of Morden and Browne.
Tooley, Mapping of America, p. 63, no. 20 a; Cumming, Southeast, no 119 (Senex state pictured on dust jacket); Burden II, no. 750, state 2 (of 4); Pritchard/ Taliaferro, , 68 Custis Atlas, pp. 358-60; McCorkle 695.3; Karpinski, p. 128, plate xii (p. 160).