Chart of the Coast of America from Cape Hateras [sic] to Cape Roman from the actual surveys of Dl. Dunbibin Esq.
[Boston: John Norman, 1794]. Copper-engraved sea chart, on two joined sheets. Overall sheet size: 21 1/4 x 33 inches.
An early issue of the earliest American chart of the North Carolina coast.
Wheat and Brun, and others, speculate that the original version of this map was separately published in 1761, citing an advertisement in the September 14, 1761 Boston Gazette: "The Navigation on the Coast of North and South Carolina being very dangerous on account of the many Bars, Shoals, Sandbanks, Rocks, etc. The late Daniel Dunbibin, Esq. of North Carolina, has, at very great Expence and Labour, draughted the Sea Coast of both the Provinces in a large whole Sheet Chart of 33 inches by 23; together with all the Rivers, Bays, Inlets, Islands, Brooks, Bars, Shoals, Rocks, Soundings, Currents, &c. with necessary Directions to render the Navigation both easy and safe, and are much esteemed by the most expert Pilots..." No copy of this 1761 map is known to exist.
It is believed, however, that John Norman re-used the original printing plate for this map, or closely copied a surviving example, when he published the first edition of his The American Pilot in 1791. This example of Norman's chart of the North Carolina coastline is present here in its third state (i.e., preceded by the 1761 first issue, and second issue copies from the 1791 and 1792 editions of Norman's pilot). This state can be discerned by the addition of "New Inlet" just north of Cape Fear. Additional issues were published through 1803.
The American Revolution brought to an end Britain's leading role in the mapping of America. The task now fell to the American publishing industry, still in its infancy, but with first-hand access to the new surveys that were documenting the rapid growth of the nation. In particular, there was a need for nautical charts for use by the expanding New England commercial fleets. The first American marine atlas, Mathew Clark's A Complete Set of Charts of the Coast of America, was published in Boston in 1790. Two of Clark's charts had been engraved by John Norman, who was inspired to launch his own enterprise. In January 1790, Norman published a notice in the Boston Gazette stating he was currently engraving charts of all the coast of America on a large scale. These were assembled and published as The American Pilot , Boston, 1791. Norman's Pilot , the second American marine atlas, indeed the second American atlas of any kind, marked an advance over the earlier work of Mathew Clark.
New editions of the Pilot appeared in 1792 and 1794, and after John Norman's death, his son, William, brought out editions in 1794, 1798, 1801, and 1803. Despite the seemingly large number of editions, The American Pilot is one of the rarest of all American atlases, and one of the very few published during the eighteenth century. Wheat and Brun (pps. 198-199) locate just ten complete copies for the first five editions: 1791 (Huntington, Harvard); 1792 (LC, Clements); 1794(1) (LC, JCB, Boston Public); 1794(2) (Yale); 1798 (LC, Boston Public).
Provenance: de-accessioned by the Museum of the City of New York.
Wheat & Brun Maps & Charts Published in America before 1800 580 (third state); Phillips, p. 872 (1798 edition); Printed Maps of the Carolinas 24; cf. Wroth, Some Contributions to Navigation, pp. 32-33.