RATZER, Bernard (fl.1756-77)
Plan of the City of New York
London: Jefferys & Faden, Jany. 12 1776 [paper watermarked 'Ruse & Turners / 1831']. Copper-engraved map by Thomas Kitchin after Bernard Ratzer, in very good condition, apart from some expert repairs to old folds and the lower margin. Sheet size: 26 3/4 x 38 1/2 inches.
A fine copy of an apparently unrecorded second state of this important plan of New York, including the Jefferys & Faden imprint: 'Made just prior to the Revolution, the Ratzen plan was the most accurate and useful survey of New York then circulating' (Deák)
'Ratzer was an experienced surveyor and a fine draughtsman' (Cumming) whose highly accomplished plan was based on John Montresor's hurried survey of 1765. Cumming goes on to note that Ratzer's plan was 'much more carefully surveyed and drafted than Montresor's map; the wharves along the Sound are detailed, the streets given names, and new buildings and streets on either side of the Bowery entered.' It was engraved by Thomas Kitchin who mistakenly recorded the cartographer's name as 'Ratzen'. According to Deák, the plan 'details a portion of the city extending from the Battery to a point south of today's Grand Street, including the road to Greenwich (along the Hudson), Broadway, and the Bowery Lane (the high road to Boston). Across the river, a small part of Long Island is depicted, with the important Brookland Ferry clearly indicated. Thirty-one numbered references to the major landmarks are given below the dedicatory cartouche. These include Fort George, various churches, religious meetinghouses, the Exchange, and marketplaces. The nineteenth reference is to "The College" (i.e., King's College), today's Columbia University, originally located on spacious grounds overlooking the Hudson, south of Murray Street'.
Curiously, the index illustrates a degree of religious tolerance that would have been found in very few cities around the world and evinces the great diversity that has characterized the city throughout its history. There is a diverse collection of Protestant sects including Calvinist, Episcopalian, Lutheran, and Huguenot churches, in addition to a synagogue. However, Roman Catholicism and non-Christian African religions were not permitted to be practiced openly. The great estates located to the north of the city proper are shown as belonging to several famous families including the Rutgers, the Bayards, and the De Lanceys.
The rarity of the Plan is highlighted by the fact that it was unknown to Cumming (writing in 1979) and does not appear to have been recorded since. Cumming lists a copy of Ratzer's Map with 'Ruse & Turners' watermarks, but was uncertain if the watermark date was 1831 or 1851. The watermark date on the present example of the Plan is 'Ruse & Turners / 1831'. Since both the Cumming copy of the Map and the present Plan appear to have been printed on the same batch of paper, it is highly probable that they were printed at the same time. What is certain is that the present work is finely printed on top quality paper and that the image shows no apparent differences or wear when compared with the earlier issue.
Cumming 'The Montresor-Ratzer-Sauthier Sequence of Maps of New York City, 1766-76', no.5b & cf.9b, in Imago Mundi 31 , pp.55-65; cf. Deák, American Views, 120; cf. Eno Collection , 29; cf. Manhattan in Maps, pp.73-77; cf. Stokes, Iconography of Manhattan Island 1 , p.342.