HILLS, John (fl. 1777-1816)
This Plan of the City of Philadelphia and its Environs, Shewing the Improved Parts, is Dedicated to the Mayor, Aldermen and Citizens thereof.
London-: published by John & Josiah Boydell, 1 January 1798. Copper-engraved map by John Cooke, printed on a single elephant folio sheet of paper (watermarked "James Whatman Turkey Mill Kent 1794"), with 54 numbered references. Sheet size: 27 3/4 x 38 inches.
Provenance: Martin P. Snyder
The Snyder copy of the best map of Philadelphia published during its time as the capital of the United States.
Hills was one of the most talented and prolific British surveyors working during the Revolutionary War. Serving as an ensign in the 38th, and later as a Lieutenant in the 23rd regiment. During the Philadelphia Campaign of 1777-8 and later actions in the New Jersey theatre, Hills drafted a magnificent series of manuscript battle plans, and larger regional campaign maps. After the war, Hills seems to have settled in Philadelphia. He is first listed in Biddles 1791 directory as a surveyor and draughtsman on Mulberry Street, but two extant manuscript maps located in the Philadelphia City Archives show him active in the city as early as 1788. In 1796 he drafted this impressive map, receiving the commendation of the mayor Matthew Clarkson. To ensure the best quality of engraving and printing, it was still necessary for Hills to send his plan to London for publication. Engraved by John Cooke, the plan was published by the Boydells at the end of 1797, although it also included an imprint by Hills offering the map for sale in Philadelphia (this has led carto-bibliographers to incorrectly cite the first state as an American imprint). The large size of this plan "permitted the author to name and locate each of the dozens of wharves along the Delaware and to give the details of construction then existing in every city block to, and even beyond, the Schuylkill. The topography received equally minute treatment. Even brickyards and small ponds were identified singly" (Snyder p.204). This is the second issue of the map (with the Boydell imprint below the neat line) which was issued very shortly after the first. Both states are very rare. Only one copy of either has appeared at auction in the last quarter century (Sothebys New York, 30 October 1990, lot 19).
Deak 211; Phillips, p. 702; cf. Phillips Descriptive List of Maps and Views of Philadelphia 175 (first issue); Snyder City of Independence 169a (this copy illustrated as Fig. 121); Wheat & Brun 471.