POPPLE, Henry (d.1743)
A Map of the British Empire in America with the French and Spanish settlements adjacent thereto
London: "Engrav'd by Willm. Henry Toms" "1733" [but circa 1735]. Folio. (20 1/2 x 15 inches). Engraved map by William Henry Toms, with very fine full contemporary hand-colouring (with twenty-two integral inset views and plans) on 15 double-page and 5 single-page sheets, with full contemporary hand-colouring, mounted on guards throughout, with the double-page key map by Toms, hand-coloured in outline. With the Contents leaf, laid in.
Expertly bound to style in half 18th-century russia over original 18th-century coated paper-covered boards, spine gilt with red morocco spine label, modern blue morocco-backed cloth box, titled in gilt on the 'spine'
A monument to 18th-century American cartography: a highly attractive fully-coloured copy of the first large-scale map of North America, and the first printed map to show the thirteen colonies. Popple maps with full contemporary colour are exceedingly rare.
Popple produced this map under the auspices of the Lord Commissioners of Trade and Plantations to help settle disputes arising from the rival expansion of English, Spanish and French colonies. "France claimed not only Canada, but also territories drained by the Mississippi and its tributaries - in practical terms, an area of half a continent" (Goss The Mapping Of North America p.122.) The present copy of Popple's map, with its full contemporary hand-colouring, would have been particularly useful in these disputes. Mark Babinski in his masterly monograph on this map notes that 'The typical coloring of fully colored copies ... is described best by a contemporary manuscript legend on the end-paper affixing the Key map to the binding in the King George III copy at the British Library: "Green - Indian Countrys. Red - English. Yellow - Spanish. Blue - French. Purple - Dutch." The careful demarcation of the disputed areas by colour would have made the identification of whether a particular location was in one or another 'zone' a great deal easier. Thus the colouring adds a whole new dimension to a map that is usually only seen in its uncoloured state, and perhaps suggests that the copies with full hand-colouring were originally produced for some as-yet-unrediscovered official use to do with the international land disputes of the time.
Benjamin Franklin, on May 22, 1746, ordered two copies of this map, "one bound the other in sheets," for the Pennsylvania Assembly. It was the only map of sufficient size and grandeur available - and the map is on a grand scale: if actually assembled it would result in a rectangle over eight feet square. Its coverage extends from the Grand Banks off Newfoundland to about ten degrees west of Lake Superior, and from the Great Lakes to the north coast of South America. Several of the sections are illustrated with handsome pictorial insets, including views of New York City, Niagara Falls, Mexico City, and Quebec, and inset maps of Boston, Charles-Town, Providence, Bermuda, and a number of others.
"Little is known of Henry Popple except that he came from a family whose members had served the Board of Trade and Plantations for three generations, a connection that must have been a factor in his undertaking the map, his only known cartographic work" (McCorkle America Emergent 21.) Babinski has made a detailed study of the issues and states of the Popple map. This copy is in Babinski's state 5: the imprint on sheet 20 reads "London Engrav'd by Willm. Henry Toms 1733", and sheet one includes the engraved figure "1" in the upper left corner just above the intersection of the two neat lines. The small format table of contents is not present, but according to Babinski this is not unusual, indeed it was the case with two thirds of the copies examined. The key map is in Babinski's state 1, with only Toms' name below the border at the bottom and no additional place names in the 17 small insets.
This copy also notable for containing the very rare Contents leaf, titled "The Contents of each Sheet of the Twenty Plates of Mr. Popple's Map of America." We have handled only one other copy of the map complete with this ephemeral addition.
Mark Babinski Henry Popple's 1733 map (New Jersey, 1998) (ref); Brown Early Maps of the Ohio Valley 14; cf. Cumming The Southeast in Early Maps 216, 217; Degrees of Latitude 24, state 4 (but with engraved number to sheet 1); E. McSherry Fowble Two Centuries of Prints in America 1680-1880 (1987), 6, 7; cf. John Goss The Mapping of North America (1990) 55 (key map only); Graff 3322; Howes P481, "b"; Lowery 337 & 338; McCorkle America Emergent 21; Phillips Maps p.569; Sabin 64140; Schwartz & Ehrenberg p.151; Streeter Sale 676; Stephenson & McKee Virginia in Maps , map II-18A-B.