CARLETON, Osgood (fl.1792-1806)
Map of Massachusetts proper compiled from Actual Surveys made by Order of the General Court, and under the inspection of agents of their appointment
[Boston: B. & J. Loring, 1801]. Copper-engraved map, with original outline colour, folded and mounted on linen. Publisher's paper label to verso, in good condition apart from some slight browning. Modern cloth chemise, within a morocco-backed cloth slipcase. Sheet size: 31 3/4 x 46 3/4 inches.
A very rare and highly important early map of Massachusetts.
The revised and much improved first "official" edition of the most important early map of Massachusetts. In three key ways, this edition is a great improvement over Osgood Carleton's 1798 original which was rejected for official sanction by the government of the Commonwealth. Firstly, the coastline and coastal islands have been more correctly rendered, largely due to the incorporation of information from the charts of Joseph Des Barres. Secondly, roads and streams that had been left incomplete in the earlier map were extended. Thirdly, some of the clutter of the 1798 map, engraved by Carleton's partner, John Norman, was removed, and the map is more attractive and informative, with a cleaner and crisper appearance. The history of the creation and publication of Carleton's map is interesting. There was a movement to create a state-sponsored map of Massachusetts as early as 1791. In 1795, after a failed attempt by the Massachusetts Historical Society, Osgood Carleton and John Norman signed a contract with the Commonwealth to create a state map based on surveys submitted by every town, with the entire map to be endorsed as to its quality by the state government. The map was produced in 1798, but it failed to win approval by the General Court which criticized Norman's engraving. The government asked Norman to redraw the map, although he had already printed 400 copies and went about marketing it without the official seal of approval from the Massachusetts government. Carleton, however, began to recompile the map and the firm of Callendar and Hill was contracted to engrave it. The present version of the map was approved by the General Court in 1801, and 500 copies were ordered to be printed. The map was published by B. & J. Loring in Boston, and offered (along with a companion map of Maine, which was then a constituent part of Massachusetts) at four dollars for a set, seven dollars if mounted on cloth with rollers, and eight dollars folded into cases. This copy of the map retains the publisher's original paper label, which forcefully asserts that this 1801 version of the Carleton map of Massachusetts, approved by the General Court, is "the only accurate one ever published of this state." The map is drawn on a scale of four miles to the inch, and gives a clear delineation of the boundaries and coastline of Massachusetts, and of the borders of each town in the state. The distance of each town from Boston and from their respective county seat is given, and major roads and streams are shown. Public and private institutions, including academies, meetinghouses, courthouses, etc., are located, as are topographical features such as mountains, ponds, rivers and streams. The cartouche, smaller in size and more attractive than that in the 1798 version, is still quite large, taking up much of the lower left corner of the map. It shows an Indian standing beside trees on a shoreline, with boats in the distant waters, and casks, anchors, nets, and a globe in the foreground.
Danforth, 'The First Official Maps of Maine and Massachusetts,' in Imago Mundi 35 (1983), pp. 37-57; Krieger & Cobb, Mapping Boston, p. 52; Phillips, A List of Maps of America, p. 400; Ristow, American Maps and Mapmakers, pp. 89-92.